Finally – a proper Office and a third children’s home (2008)
One day, Mr. Lt. D. Lazarus came to Maher’s office and said he wanted to sell his house at Swagat, also in Wadgaonsheri. Although Sister Lucy suggested he leave because she had no money, he insisted that she come and see the premises. Bernie Hill happened to be in the office and said she would visit the house with Sister Lucy. Although the property was old and badly maintained Sister Lucy liked it, but, since she had no funds, she told Mr. Lt. D. Lazarus to find another buyer. He asked Sister Lucy to think it over and left. After he left, Bernie suggested that she and her family would purchase the house for Maher. Sister Lucy was overwhelmed with joy and contacted Mr Lt. D. Lazarus telling him to visit her with all the necessary paperwork to purchase the property. Prakash Kothwale and Hira Begum completed the documentation with the help of Francis D’Souza and Zaheer Khambatta and the house was purchased on Feb 2008. On 1.3.2008 there was a beautiful inauguration of the office at Swagat. The space can accommodate nine staff and is manageable, although it has quickly become crowded because the Organisation is growing so quickly and next door to the office there is a home for twenty five young children.
Bringing them back to life – Unnati Niwas (2012)
Vatsalyadham has been one of Maher’s most prominent projects – it was established 2004 with the aim to rescue the destitute women on Pune’s streets. It sson made progress and there are 68 women at present at Vatsalyadham.
On the 15th September 2012, with the inauguration of Unnati Niwas, Maher took one more important step of exploring the possibility of enabling these women to earn some income and thus regain their lost confidence and self-image. This was a very novel idea since it created a ray of hope in women deeclared by society as mentally unsound and therefore useless for any work, let alone earn any income for their work. Happily Parivartan, an NGO in Satara, that also worked in the field of education and health, welcomed the idea and decided to collaborate with Maher on the project.
Unnati Niwas is a residence of a selected number of women from Vatsalyadham for the purpose. These women had successfully come out of their trauma and therefore were ready to take up some work. Rosemary, Madhu and Rekha were the first three women who were identified for the project. Maher is very hapy to announce that all the three women have been employed by the “Phoenix Mall” on Pune-Ahmednagar Road in their house keeping section and they have been reported to be doing very well. Thus the idea of rehabilitating the mentally disturbed women through making them income-productive has come to a fruition. This way, their self-image and confidence will increase surely.
The houses today
All the Sadabahar children attend the English medium school where they are studying hard and sharing love with each other – this is a dream come true for Sister Lucy. In Premsagar there are twenty three children – six of the children there attend an english medium school. The more central location also means that some of the older girls can live at Premsagar and attend college in Pune city. After classes they help in training and looking after the younger children. In Swagat seven children are going to an english medium school and there are also a few young people who can assist in the children’s care and support Maher staff on a part-time basis. Four of these nine young people grew up in Maher homes – evidence of the change Maher has made in their lives.
Sister Lucy believes in the tremendous value of education and has made schooling possible for the hundreds of children who come to Maher. In India, learning English is a good way to give children greater potential for the future. But an English style education is very costly and many poor children are unable to afford it.
Sister Lucy wanted to give some of the Maher children in Pune an opportunity to learn in an English medium school.
In 2001 Father Peter from Vidyankur School helped Maher begin to achieve their goal by granting concessions to ten children but the children also needed accommodation in Pune. This was generously offered by Sister Noeline at a premises in Sainkwadi in 2001 and so Sadabahar Home was set up for this purpose – the inauguration took place in June 2001.
Maher slowly increased the number of children able to attend English medium schools by getting admissions to other institutions as well and so it became difficult to find accommodation large enough to house up to twenty children. People are also reluctant to provide houses for orphans and poor children and the large societies do not welcome children from poor backgrounds.
The increasing demand for care of homeless children necessitated the creation of more homes in the following years.
The need for an Office (2005)
Maher’s administration office was initially based at Vadhu Budruk which is a one hour drive from Pune city and difficult for people from the villages and other cities to visit. As Maher developed into an international organization, there was a requirement for centrally located office space in order that it could function more effectively. 2005 the office was moved to the Hope Centre, but this was a rented place which also housed a unit for twenty five children.Therefore it was a temporary accommodation. Maher desperately needed more space with relocation becoming more urgent when they were given notice to leave by the landlord.
Birth of Premsagar and relocation of Sadabahar (2007)
It was very difficult to find sufficient premises within the available budget. The twenty five children could not be moved to Vadhu as they were all attending an English Medium School in the city and the office staff also lived centrally. Sister Lucy and the board members were very tense about the situation but, as always, God blessed Maher with His power and love – some visitors came to Maher and were so moved by the work of the Organisation that they decided to give a substantial donation. Now Maher could purchase a small house in September 2007 – Premsagar in Wadgaonsheri – to which the children and office work were relocated.
Additionally the Sadabahar children eventually found a settled home at the premises, where Sadabahar is located today.
One multipurpose room for Premsagar (2008)
The new premises of Premsagar soon became overcrowded with twenty five children and eight staff based there and there was no space available to park Maher vehicles. Sister Lucy dreamed of having a larger space for the National Office but funds were not sufficient to buy property in Pune city. Some people from other countries, including the U.K. and Germany, came to visit Maher and saw how congested the office premises had become. The children living there were not able to play, sing and shout in case of disturbing the office staff. Bernie Hill, one of the volunteers from the U.K., raised sufficient funds to build a second storey at Premsagar which could provide more space for the children – today it is used as an multipurpose room. However, this did not solve the office space problem.