The Residents of Shanthivanam share their thoughts


I spent a month at St. Xavier’s home for the Aged maintained by FCN. The residents shared their view with me. In their own words.

Deborah Rhodes from San Diego

Elderly:

Shantivanam is full of gardens. I help take care of the flowers with the other women. We prepare garlands with the fresh flowers. We enjoy the beauty and are proud of our work. We take care of Shantivanam as our own home.

Shantivanam is a place where we can live and work in peace. I take care of the buffaloes just as I did in my village. The buffaloes are very healthy and provide the milk that we need every day. I enjoy my work and am happy that I can do something helpful for all of us at Shantivanam.

Shantivanam is a beautiful place with gardens, fruit trees, and buffaloes. I walk in the gardens with the other men and women and help care for the buffaloes by cutting grass for them to eat. We think of Shantivanam as our own home.

We share all of our meals together at Shantivanam. Our meals are always nutritious and are often prepared from the fresh vegetables and fruit trees that grow here in our gardens at Shantivanam. The other women and I help with the meals by picking tomatoes and chili peppers and preparing them to be cooked. We are proud of our many gardens which are not only beautiful, but are useful too.

Nursing Candidates:

After I completed the 10th grade I came to Shantivanam to gain some practical experience for one year. I work with Sister Lucy, a certified nurse, a nurse’s assistant, and the other nursing candidates to care for the elderly. We make sure everyone receives proper medical attention and maintains the cleanliness that is necessary to be healthy. We also attend tailoring classes which is a wonderful opportunity to learn another skill. After one year, I will go to nursing school for two years to become a nurse’s assistant. Then I will return to Shantivanam and work for one year as a nurse’s assistant.

I never would have had any of these opportunities without my FCN sponsors. Only because of them was I able to continue my education, to become a nurse’s assistant, and to have a rewarding profession helping others. When I am married and have children, I will be able to teach them all I have learned and to provide for their education.

College Students:

Shantivanam provides a place for us to live while we are continuing our studies. I live in the boys’ dorm with the other students. We take the bus every day to Porumamilla, 12 kilometers away, to attend classes. When we come home, we study every night until 10:00. We take our studies very seriously and work hard to get good grades because we are grateful for the sacrifices that are made by our FCN sponsors. Without them, none of us would have had the opportunity to go to college. Now we are all earning degrees in different fields and will have professions that allow us to provide better homes and education for our families.

Young Students:

I am living at Shantivanam while I go to 11th and 12th grades. I live in the boys’ dorm with the other male students. Every day I take a bus 12 kilometers to go to Porumamilla for classes. I enjoy my classes and study very hard to get good grades so that I can go on to college. The other boys and I also help Sister Lucy with small tasks at Shantivanam. Because of my FCN sponsors I have a place to live and can continue with my education. Without my sponsors I would be working in the fields, with no other opportunity. I will always remember the way you have changed my life.

Lakshmi:

My name is Lakshmi. I am 32 years old. I came to Shantivanam six years ago when I had no where else to go. My husband had divorced me and married another woman. I had no where to live and no way to support my 6 year old daughter Monika. Shantivanam took me in and offered me work and a place to live. I was trained in cooking and now I prepare three meals every day for 50 people. I prepare nutritious meals with fresh fruits and vegetables that are grown here at Shantivanam.

But that is not all. My daughter Monica has an FCN sponsor and is going to school. This is an opportunity she never would have had. Six years ago we had no home and no hope. Now, because of Monica’s sponsor and Shantivanam, we have a beautiful home, we live in a caring community, and Monica has the chance for a bright future. I see my work at Shantivanam as a way to say thank you and to give back to the elderly who live here.

Lilly Pushpa

My name is Lilly Pushpa. I am a 24 years old nurse at St. Xavier’s Home for the Aged. My father was a farmer until he passed away two years ago. My mother is a homemaker and works in the fields. There are four girls in my family. I am the third child. It was hard for my parents to provide education for all of us. My oldest sister went to school through the 12th grade and got married. My second sister could not go to school because there was no money. Now she is married and works in the fields. I went to school through the 10th grade and wanted to continue, but my parents could not afford it. It looked like I would go to the fields and work with my sister. Then my math teacher helped me by finding work for me at the FCN School in the village of Akkalareddypalli. I was a caretaker for the girl’s dorm. It was there that I first met Dr. Geetha and Tom Chitta.

When they found out I had completed the 10th grade they asked if I would like to continue my education. I told them I did and they provided an FCN sponsor who made my studies possible. While I was studying in the 11th and 12th grades, I had the dream to become a nurse. FCN sponsors also made this dream come true. I went to college for four years and earned my nursing degree in Bachelor of Science with honors.

After graduating, I am at St. Xavier’s Home for the Aged for one year serving the elderly by caring for their daily needs and providing medical care. I also help Dr. Geetha conduct medical camps in rural villages where there is no doctor or medical help of any kind.

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FCN has also sponsored my younger sister Radhika since the 10th grade. After 10th grade, Radhika also attended nursing school. Now she works as a nurse’s assistant at St. Xavier’s Home.

Life has changed for me and my sister since we became part of the FCN family several years ago. We enjoy serving the elderly at the home for the aged because it allows us to give back to them the love we have received from FCN and our dear sponsors. We thank God for our sponsors everyday.

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