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Reception to Padma Shri Sr. Sudha Varghese on Sunday 26th Nov. 2006


ICC arranges a reception to Padma Shri Sr. Sudha Vaghese on Sunday 26th Nov. 2006 at Stadlau Church Hall, 18:50 hrs. after the Holy Mass


Sister Sudha Varghese, member of Notre Dame Sisters Congregation has been awarded a Padma Shri this year. She has been living and working at a village named Jamsaur in Patna district.


For the past 20 years, Sister Sudha Verghese, has untiringly devoted herself to the service of Musahars, the Dalits of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.  These people are counted to the most backward, lowest and poorest Dalits in the society. They live in abject poverty in small villages in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. While other people in the world are avoiding the Musahars, Sister Sudha Varghese travelled all the way from the prosperous district of Kottayam in Kerala to be with them, to live with them and dedicate her life to their progress a truly expertly lifework.  Today, Sister Sudha's accomplishments are many. She runs centres for Musahar girls and mainstreams them into society. Sister Sudha's organisation "Nari Gunjan" runs 50 educational centres for Musahar girls where about 1,500 students learn academics and also vocational skills such as stitching and embroidery. She fights court cases for those against whom crimes have been committed. Sister Sudha is active in 50 villages of the Danapur and Phulwari Sharif area, about 40 km from Patna. Sister Sudha first came to Bihar from Kottayam district in Kerala with Notre Dame sisters at the age of 16 in 1965. Later in the 1970s, after her graduation, she returned to work in the schools run by Notre Dame. But Sister Sudha Varghese did not like the urban-centric approach of Notre Dame and was more interested in working in villages.


During her initial visit to different areas of the state, she was deeply shocked by the condition of the socially condemned Musahars. In 1986, she created a movement when she started staying at a Musahar village. People from other castes and communities disprized her but it did not bother her. Far from it - it was a small beginning for her. Especially in education a lot of things had to be done. Even today the literacy rate is just 0.2 per cent among Musahar women and 2 per cent among the men. Working for the uplift of Musahars has been no easy task.



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