ASIA/INDIA – Visiting the sick and loving the poor in the name of Jesus

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Goa – Visiting the sick, bringing comfort to the suffering and relief to the poor in the name of Jesus: this is the mission of a group of nurses from Goa who, as volunteers, go to orphanages, homes for the elderly, villages where there are the poor and the needy and bring the special announcement of hope, consolation and salvation of the Gospel. Selma Barreto, president of the “Goa Catholic Nurses’ Guild”, an association of nurses that carries out this voluntary commitment, tells Fides: “Being a nurse is a vocation: we take care of patients in their pain, anxiety and fear. Our mission is to assist them and console their relatives.
We read the Word of God to them to give them hope and courage in moments of despair. It is our way of reaching others with the message of Jesus”. Nurses – who normally work in clinics and hospitals and promote this charitable and missionary activity in their spare time – pray with patients and their relatives usually at night. In addition to providing a Bible in Hindi , Marathi and Konkani for prayer and reading, they take care of distributing bibles among patients’ relatives.
At Goa Medical College, a hospital known for its efficiency and the availability of specialized doctors, nurses organize sessions of medical visits dedicated to groups of the poor and elderly and when they go to homes for the elderly they provide meals and clothes for those present. During the lockdown caused by Covid-19, women contacted the Vanamare tribe in Nirancal, a village near Goa. “There we organized a medical camp dedicated to children to check the health of malnourished children. We provided them with rations of rice and wheat flour”, explains Barreto. In the special session of visits and dental operations, the nurses gave lectures on hygiene and sanitary measures for mothers and children, while in the camp organized for the children of the Don Bosco School in the village of Tuvem, medical visits for otolaryngology and dermatology were planned. The nurses provided toothpaste, soaps and toothbrushes to children and teenagers. Barreto explains: “Dedicating oneself to such works of mercy is possible only thanks to the love of Christ that reigns in hearts. We experience a different kind of happiness when we are at the service of Christ present in the poor: it is a joy that the world cannot offer”. These meetings, she adds, “are also opportunities to share witness of faith and can bear fruit”. “We see so much suffering in the hospital. What we earn we share with the poor and needy. My nurse colleagues are happy to volunteer. We want to use our gifts and talents to give relief and hope to the people of God”, notes the President. In fact, health care is joined by humanitarian and charitable assistance: “Every month we supply rice, legumes, oil, wheat flour and biscuits to 25 families in the village of Siolim. If anyone needs medicine, we do our best to get them”, adds Barreto.
This good work continues to attract new volunteers and donors: “By sharing the photos of our mission in the various villages, other people ask to join this service or to make their contribution by donating. The Lord helps us gather the necessary help for the people we visit monthly. We thank him because, in his Providence, he have everything we need”.