Bangalore, India. Sumanahalli Society was conferred the best Non-Government Organization award for work among the leprosy-affected in the State of Karnataka by the Government, in Bangalore, India. Sumanahalli is managed by the Claretians of Bangalore Province since 1987, probably the only intervention of the Claretians with leprosy-affected persons anywhere.
The award was handed over by Dr. Parimala S Maroor, Director, State Institute of Health and Family Welfare, at the Anti Leprosy Day program on the 31st of January jointly organized by the Government of Karnataka and Sumanahalli Society. Mr. Mastan Saheb, the senior-most staff of the Sumanahalli society, working for leprosy for 40 years, received the award on behalf of the Society.
Sumanahalli was started by the Archbishop of Bangalore in 1976, responding to the request from the Chief Minister of Karnataka, who was convinced that only a Christian Center would provide the compassionate service needed for leprosy-affected persons. The archbishop brought in various religious Congregations to work together and later entrusted the Claretians to lead the activities from 1987.
Presently St. Joseph’s of Tarbers (SJT), Franciscan Sisters of Immaculate, and Montfort Sisters render their service in the society, coordinated by the Claretians. There is also a large number of lay staff, belonging to different religions, thus making Sumanahalli a beautiful example of “working with others”.
Conferring the Best NGO Award for Sumanahalli, on behalf of the Health Department of the Government of Karnataka, Dr. Parimala said that
“Sumanahalli Society has done commendable work for the cause of leprosy-affected in its 45 years of service.”
The program was organized in the Sumanahalli Campus on the Magadi road, where more than 100 persons from leprosy backgrounds are provided with treatment and rehabilitation facilities.
Welcoming the gathering, Fr George Kannanthanam, CMF, Director of the Sumanahalli society said, “Sumanahalli society has provided dignified life to over 11,000 leprosy-affected persons through an integrated rehabilitation program consisting of education, vocational training, job placement, housing, and family settlement.” This is in line with the theme of Anti Leprosy Day by WHO for 2022, “United for Dignity”. Four Claretian Fathers are involved with the Sumanahalli project. The Provincial, Fr Sabu George, CMF, is the Vice Chairman of the Society, with the Archbishop being the Chairman.
Sumanahalli has been providing support to leprosy patients living in all 11 colonies in the city of Bangalore. It has built about 600 houses for leprosy-cured persons. Sumanahalli runs a school on the campus for children with leprosy, HIV, and disabilities background. Various vocational training programs are provided for them to get employed. A garments manufacturing unit provides them employment. Sumanahlli has become a hub of various social activities with projects for orphans, street boys, and juvenile delinquents apart from those affected by leprosy, HIV/AIDS, and disabilities. The motto of the Society is Love, Light, and Life.