From the appeal that Pope Francis makes to us in his Message for the 32nd World Day of the Sick: “We Christians are especially called to make our own the compassionate gaze of Jesus. Let us care for those who suffer and are alone, and even marginalized and discarded.”(Read full message)
As Vedruna Family we offer our grain of sand, contributing our healing dimension of the Charism, which is renewed today in the key of care. Joaquina’s care, from whose healing embrace nothing was left out, especially the discarded people of her time (Cf. NdN 19).
Therefore, to celebrate this day, we interviewed our sister Joma Peter Muttuchira Myaliyil of our Indian Province:
I am Sister Joma CCV, I belong to the Congregation of the Carmelite Sisters of Charity Vedruna. I live in a hospital community called Divya Chhaya-Subir, which is located in South Gujarat, India, and serves the tribal people of this area. I am a physician, gynecologist and family physician, practicing as the Chief of Medicine in a 30-bed hospital for 10 years.
What do the sick and people you deal with teach you?
The simplicity of these indigenous people made me realize that life is not so complex and complicated. They are very connected to nature. They firmly believe that sickness is an invasion of an external spirit into the body and their custom is to take the sick to the Bhagat, a man of God in the community, for advice and prayers. This custom shed further light on the World Health Organization’s definition of health, which states that health is not simply the absence of physical disease, but a state of complete physical, mental and psychological well-being. I learned to respect their belief system, but also to question certain erroneous concepts and practices. I began to understand that they do not readily accept new teachings from people outside their community, so it is better to understand them and encourage traditional practices that are not harmful and to have an integrated approach. They taught me to lead a calmer life, to wait patiently for what is not under my control and allow it to take its own course. His creativity and skills often surprise me. Over the years, the trust they place in me has driven me to become more committed to my work. I consider it a God-given opportunity to be with these indigenous people who are on the periphery.
What excites you most in your work and dedication?
I see miracles almost every day in my practices. I try to help the patients who come to us in a holistic way, with the help of a wonderful and dedicated team at Vedruna Hospital. I believe that my vocation is a response from the Lord to the cry for help from many of these people. This gives a lot of meaning to my life and conviction in my vocation, and drives me to go further in my service. It is a great platform to witness the values of Jesus and be a blessing to these indigenous people.
How do you do preventive work?
Prevention is always better than cure, as it requires less time and resources. We have ongoing educational and screening programs in the hospital, schools and villages on relevant topics. It helps people improve their health-seeking behaviors and detect patients at an early stage of their disease.
What difficulties do you have?
While it is exciting to be in the healthcare field in this remote area with limited resources, the continuous work without a replacement can lead to burnout. It is extremely difficult to obtain personnel, financing, etc., to carry out the activities. Furthermore, we do not have the backing of the government, as they have the misconception that we serve these people to convert them to Christianity, even though they use the data from our work to publicize improvements in the health indices of this remote tribal community in our country.
What would you say to a young woman who would like to work in the healthcare field?
If you have a passion for Christ and compassion for the people around you, this ministry field is an excellent option to heal a broken person and turn them into a healthy person. It is a profession and a ministry to proclaim the good news.
You were in Vic in Chapter XXVIII. What did you take back to India from the experience?
General Chapter 28 was an enriching experience for me. A gathering of women who share the same vision and mission of following Jesus in the Vedruna Charismatic Family in the Synodal Church. It was a beautiful opportunity to have a direct experience of our strengths, distributed in four different continents, which is multicultural. Also to know our vulnerability as a minority with declining numbers and resources. GC 28 has given much hope for RENEWAL, personally and collectively, in this digital age.