Anantapur Off The Beaten Path
Yes, happy hospitals. During my life I have visited (for “work”) all kind of hospitals, residences and old people’s homes. Not my cup of tea but humans can get used to anything. I found these hospitals very happy. You did not feel “pain”, “illness” or “sadness”, only smiles for the chance to have medical assistance. Hospitals are white, clean and with lots of open spaces which give natural light and fresh new air. These hospitals give assistance to 2 million and a half people in Anantapur. Spanish doctors work together with Indian doctors and assistants. This is very important because when they leave, knowledge will stay.
A lot has been written about Vicens Ferrer. I would describe him as a good man. Vicens was born in Barcelona in 1920. In 1954 arrived to Mumbai as a Jesuit missionary to complete his spiritual formation. From that moment he will dedicate all his life to help the dàlits, the poorest cast in India.
The leaders of the country did not like his work and see him as a threat to their interests. They managed to drive him out of the country in 1968. When that happened, more than 30.000 country people supported also by intellectuals, politicians and religious men mobilized for a 250km walk to protest against that decision.
After a short interview with Vicens, Indira Gandhi recognized his great work and tried to find a solution sending this telegram “Father Vicens Ferrer will go abroad for a short vacation and he will be welcome again in India soon”
In 1969 he managed to go back in India, settled in Anantapur which is one of the poorest areas of the country and created the Fundacion Vicente Ferrer. You still can see him there, supervising all the projects in the area. Even if he is quite busy and lately his health is no good, he will always find time to welcome you personally and have a short chat
Conditions in Anantapur are very hard and the rate of disability is very high in the area. Some orthopedic workshops have been built: prosthesis, crutches, etc will improve the conditions of disabled people. Trauma specialists, orthopedists and physiotherapists work together on this program. Most of the times the biggest problem is distance. After putting the prosthesis children need a period of adaptation and daily sessions of physiotherapy are necessary. That means walking lots of kilometers to these centers from their home village which is very hard. Education is very important here and after the first sessions the professionals teach mothers how to do these exercises to their children at home.