Sister Arpitha’s involvement with destitute women began over six years ago when she took a young homeless girl and her baby under her care.
“The girl was very scared and had nowhere to go. Since her husband had kicked her out of his home, she turned to police for help. I was pretty active in social issues at that time and the police officials rang me up and informed me about her situation. I took her in,” says sister Arpitha.
After the incident, phone calls poured in seeking help to accommodate more women. “My home had the space to accommodate more women. That was how the shelter home ‘Rachel Home’ was conceived.
Though, initially I had made a vow that I would never set up an institution, I changed my mind later as I began to fear that if I don’t register the home, people might suspect that I was possibly running a brothel. So, I got Rachel Home registered. Sister Arpitha added that the policy of the home is to take in the women along with their children for two months. “By then, the staff would help them recover from their plight by providing them a job or fixing their family issues,” she adds.
Sister Arpitha says the lack of institutions to cater to the needs of women and children is a serious issue in the state. “In many cases, a mother is forced to separate from a weaned child which is very sad,” she added.
For the past many years, Sister Arpitha has encountered nearly 350 such cases of neglect, utter desolation and hopelessness of women (both single (with babies) and married women). “Some were on the verge of suicide. I would not say all of them were innocent. There are women who had got themselves messed up in dangerous issues. But, at the end they are completely lost and needed help,” she said.
Currently, Sister Arpitha, who is part of an executive committee, works for the poor and crippled women at Angamaly. On Women’s Day, she has an important message. “Usually, society wakes up on Women’s Day. They make vows, but later forget. What we need is an enduring action oriented effort,” she says. Sister Arpitha is also a recipient of various awards and has played an important role in the rehabilitation issues of Moolampilly evictees.