Nun who pioneered to help sex workers dies

November 13, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Sister Shalini D’Souza Patna, November 7, 2014: Sister Shalini D’Souza, the former head of US-based Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, who pioneered social action with commercial sex workers in Delhi, died of cancer yesterday. She was 76.

She was diagnosed with cancer early this year. Though the cancer had spread to her several organs by August, Sister D’Souza opted not to go for further treatment. She was under treatment at Kurji Holy Family Hospital, Patna.

Sister D’Souza was religious sister for 52 years in India and US. “Her vision, deep commitment and the daring spirit of risk taking helped the Congregation to reorient their ministry to respond to the cry of the poor and the marginalized in India and Nepal,” a press release from her congregation said.

Sister D’Souza served in schools before becoming the Director of Novices and Provincial of India Province in 1983. In 1998, Sister D’Souza was elected Vice-President and in 2003 President of the SCN Congregation, making her the first Indian to head a US-based international religious congregation for women.

“Her vision of mission made an impact on Church leadership both nationally and internationally. Through her creative and dynamic ways, she helped her Sisters discover the treasures within,” the release said.

From 1990-98, Sister D’Souza worked with the commercial sex workers in Delhi in collaboration with the Indian Social Institute, a Jesuit venture, when many jeered at those people who cared for such persons.

She destrubuted condumns to sex workers and encouraged them to use it to save them from the danger of contracting the deadly AIDS to the displeasure of Church leadership in Delhi.

She pioneered in making a safe residential home for the girl children of sex workers in Gurgaon in partnership with MSFS, a lay institute of Italy. She rescued many women and young girls from prostitution.

Sister D’Souza initiated a ministry for the female domestic workers and trafficked women at Catherine Spalding Centre, Ranchi.

She was also instrumental in collaborating with JAAN Foundation to begin ‘Premasharay’, a mid-way home for girls who are trafficked at Nazareth Convent, Ranchi.

– ucan

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