An Indian mission is the subject of a Bristol library talk

BRISTOL — When Catherine Willson and Mikaela Keepin learned of Sister Lucy Kurien’s work with destitute children and adults in India, they each felt a calling. To learn about their experiences, the public is invited to attend “Maher: Rising to New Life” on Thursday, March 28, at the Lawrence Memorial Library from 7-8:30 p.m. This event is sponsored by One World Library Project. It is free and handicapped accessible.
As a young woman, Sister Lucy witnessed the horrors of abuse. This trauma led her to envision a caring home for abused and traumatized women. In 1997, in the small village of Vadhu-Budruk on the outskirts of Pune, India, the first Maher house opened its doors. The organization has since expanded to support children and adults in need in over 100 rural communities and has helped thousands of individuals find dignity and self-worth.
In the Marathi language of Western India, Maher means Mother’s Home. The non-governmental organization helps distressed individuals from all over India exercise their right to a higher quality of life, irrespective of gender, caste, creed or religion. Its mission is to identify and understand the root causes of violence and despair experienced by women and children in India, then develop and deliver services to address these root causes and their effects in villages and slums, so women, children and families are healthy, happy and self-reliant.
Willson and Keepin will present the history and work of Maher through stories, discussion and a slideshow. Time will be available for questions. After the presentation, items made by the women at Maher will be available for sale.
Mikaela Keepin of Starksboro is a new mom as well as a nurse at the Community Health Centers of Burlington. Her first visit to Maher was in 2007. “I learn and gain so much from being there,” she says. Keepin has returned to Maher five times. “Being a guest at Maher is a special way to experience India. Many of my friends there have become like family, and it’s amazing to witness the immensely important, high quality work they dedicate their lives to.” In addition to spending time at Maher, Keepin helps organize trips for folks from Maher to the U.S. for educational programs, fundraising endeavors and cross-cultural conferences.
Catherine Willson of Bristol has a background in education and counseling and is currently a yoga instructor. She met Sister Lucy in 2008 when she spoke in Burlington. “I was so struck by Lucy’s stories and her courage and strength,” Willson says, “that I knew I wanted to go to see Maher for myself.” She spent three weeks there in 2014 and returned in 2016 and 2017. While at Maher, Willson teaches English and supports both the young and the elderly, all depending upon current needs. She has also hosted young adults from Maher who come to the U.S. for education and work opportunities.
For more information about this event or One World Library Project, contact the Lawrence Memorial Library at 802-453-2366 or go to OneWorldLibraryProject.org or the One World Library Project Facebook page.

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