Here is an unexplicable, at least on the face of known facts, action taken by India against this Catholic nun, Jacqueline Jean McEwan. One would think that 29 years of such service would prove one’s intentions and goals. Apparently, she somehow became a threat to the Indian people, and so was ejected from their body politic. Hmmmm. Is there a new wind blowing against Christians in New Dehli?
(See second article update below -)
A Catholic nun from Britain who has spent 29 years caring for leprosy patients in Bengaluru, India, is being forced to give up her work and leave the country after Delhi refused to renew her residency permit.
London-born Jacqueline Jean McEwan, now known as Sister Jean, or the Mother Teresa of Sumanahalli, runs a mobile clinic for leprosy patients. She has been ordered to leave without explanation by the union home ministry and if her appeal for permission to stay goes unanswered by 2pm on Monday she will have to board an evening flight bound for London.
“It’s in God’s hands,” said the 63-year-old nun, who spent her early years in Newcastle but has been working at the centre, run by the Sumanahalli Society, since 1982.
“I work with leprosy patients in two city slums and a nearby village. They’re old and neurologically damaged, and suffer from ailments such as cancer. I’ve spent a long time with my people in Bengaluru, but wherever God wants me to be I won’t remain idle,” she said.
As the Guardian reported in March, leprosy has officially been eliminated in India, yet 130,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. Funds for both leprosy charities and government leprosy programmes have reduced, and some projects have shut down.
But the Sumanahalli Society, on the outskirts of Bengaluru in Karnataka state, has been doing extraordinary work in the treatment, vocational training and rehabilitation of leprosy patients, winning national and other awards. The mission was set up in the late 70s after a request by Karnataka’s chief minister to the archbishop of Bengaluru. Today, Sumanahalli leather goods, garments and other products are marketed in the UK by the Leprosy Mission, an international development organisation.
“But we don’t have anybody to take care of our clinics who is as trained and committed as Sister Jean,” said the director of the society, Father George Kannanthanam. “She’s wonderful – she knows every leprosy patient by name, even though Indian names are difficult.”
“If Sister Jean has to leave, the main loss will be for the patients,” he added. “They call her ‘Amma’ – she’s like a mother to them. It’s as if Sumanahalli’s heart is being ripped out.”
Even if Sister Jean is forced to leave on Monday, she is hoping the Indian high commission in London will reissue a new residency visa. “India has made progress in tackling leprosy, but there’s still a lot to be done,” she said.
The home ministry was unavailable for comment on the reasons behind her deportation. But GV Sharma, the official responsible for determining her fate, returns from leave on Monday, giving Sister Jean and her patients a sliver of hope of a last-minute reprieve.
LATEST UPDATE FROM INDIA image is important to governments. I wonder what happened to the official who first banned her from India?
news for the poor, unwell and worried people of Sumanahalli in Bangalore. They
will not have to say goodbye to Sister Jean after all. She can now stay in India
as long as she likes.Home Minister P Chidambaram has intervened to
restore visa “without limit of time” for British-born Catholic nun Jacqueline
Jean McEwan, known here as Sister Jean. She had been asked to leave the country
after her residence permit was not renewed by the government this year. The Home Minister said the notice for her to leave India, issued by the
Foreign Regional Registration Office (FRRO), was a mistake. Sister Jean
came to India in 1982 through a Commonwealth agreement as a medic. Since then,
the nun, popularly known as the Mother Teresa of Sumanahalli, has lived in
Bangalore and has run a mobile clinic for leprosy patients.Every year since she arrived in India, she would
have her residence permit renewed. This year, however, the government did not
renew the permit and she was asked the leave the country by Monday, July 25.
Then, on Monday, she was granted a month’s extension. The leprosy
patients and families she has been helping for almost 30 years hoped fervently
that a permanent solution would ensure they did not lose her. But Sister Jean
had begun to say goodbye. “Yesterday, I went to Sumanahalli. The
patients came and greeted me and one of the patients gave me a ring and a little
cross…They welcomed me with garlands and bunches of flowers… all of them
were crying. It was so sad,” she told NDTV.The nun also said that, “I
have got more from my patients and my people here…more than what I have
given.” And hoped she would be permitted to continue serving the poor. Now, she
Sister Jean supervises a mobile clinic run by an NGO, the Society
for the Welfare and Rehabilitation of Leprosy Patients. The organisation has
residential accommodation for about 120 poor leprosy patients and the mobile
clinic looks after about 1,000 leprosy patients in the village in the heart of
the city with funds from donors, trusts and philanthropic organisations and