This is the abridged Annual Report of Maher for the period 1st April 2017 to 31st March 2018. Following are some of the notable developments over the period:
1. The most important of the events during this period has been award of the ‘Consultative Status’ by the United Nations. It has been a matter of great pride and satisfaction for all Maherites that the United Nations took the notice of Maher’s work and selected it to be among the chosen few NGOs from all over the world to be associated with its work. We hope Maher would be able to benefit from this new status in terms of experience and insight as also help the United Nations and the fellow organisations in their common mission.
The credit for this honour wholly goes to incessant efforts over last 20 years on the part of the Maher staff and the members of the Board of Trustees have also played their role in winning this honour by giving their valuable time and wise counsel in conducting Maher activities. However special thanks are due to Vitoria Verzura and Marie-Laurence who put in extensive efforts for Maher to gain this status.
The status has been conferred upon Maher by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) which is one of the 6 principal organs of the United Nations.
2. On 4 February 2018, Maher celebrated its 21st anniversary with usual enthusiasm and zest on the part of its children, staff and volunteers. The function was aptly presided over by Swami Agnivesh, one of India’s staunchest proponents of secularism and interfaith harmony.
3. The inauguration of Maher Kurien Kaladalan on Maher Day was another milestone in the history of Maher. The inauguration was a long dream come true. Since its inception in 1997, Maher has always strived to bring in some meaning and purpose to the life of the abandoned, the poor and the mentally disturbed. Of these the mentally handicapped and the disturbed are probably the most neglected sections of our society. Maher has always sought ways and means to make the life of these unfortunate souls a little better and satisfying to themselves. The building, ‘Maher Kurien Kaladalan’, will now be dedicated to the activities for the betterment of the conditions of these people.
The building has been aptly named in honour of Sister Lucy’s family and was inaugurated at the hands of her brothers, Sibi and Nikhil Vakkchalil, and Mr. Sibi’s wife Ms Vijita.
The function was presided over by Swami Agnivesh and was also attended by Ms Rashmi Shukla, the Police Commissioner of Pune. Ms Shukla released on the occasion ‘Naunihal Maher’, a book on Maher in Hindi.
4. This February the Interfaith Association founded by Maher on 2 February last year completed its first year and it was a matter of happiness that Maher’s message of love, peace and respect for mother earth was steadily reaching more people through its efforts. The Association has had two meetings so far, and an increasing number of people are becoming its member. The ideals of the organisation are fundamental to our work and are in fact backbone of our country and it is a matter of particular happiness that Maher youth are evincing keen interest in them.
March this year, Sister Lucy attended an Interfaith Conference at Costa Rica along with two of Maher’s young students. It was very satisfying that that the ideals of interfaith harmony were being universally accepted. The conference titled ‘Dawn of Inter Spirituality in Latin America’ discussed ‘breaking new grounds across the traditions and inspiring new spiritual pathways’ and was attended by international leaders and seekers from many different religious traditions and spiritual paths. The conference was definitely a wonderful experience of learning and sharing.
5. As usual Maher has continued to expand its activities and thus reach larger number of people who need its help. Five new homes have been opened during 2017-18. These have been Anand Vasatigrih for girls at Kendur on 11th January 2018, Priyata, the new home for mentally challenged women on 24th August 2017, Snehsagar Children's Home at Bakori on 24th June 2017, Snehasadan, shelter for elderly destitute women at Ratnagiri on 11 February 2018 and Ashakiran Home on 18th June 2018.
In addition to the prominent activities listed above, Maher has continued with enthusiasm and zest its regular work of looking after as many as 900 children and 300 women and has many more plans to expand its work. Thank you.