Saturday, 29 June 2013


We grew up with cats.

Lots of them.  The original pair - 'Tiger' and 'Snowy' begat more kittens.   And from those others were begotten.

So at any given moment in time there were usually at least 3 cats in the home.

Here is a picture from about 1981 or so - taken by Sterling Swan where the three of us kids are with what look like 3 generations of cats!

Growing up in 'Elim' in the leafy shady compound of the John Wilson Education Society at Nana Chowk, there was plenty of room for cats to roam (and strangely not too many stray dogs roaming around the compound).

Sadly, though Asha and Enoch have clamoured for cats (or dogs) many a time, we just can't have them here.   It just isn't fair for an animal to be indoors all day - which is really the only option if we were to get a cat.  We live in a 650 sq foot flat - too small for a cat! 

And what's worse, downstairs it seems that half of Thane's stray dogs have taken up there abode.  There are plenty of folks in our building society who take it on themselves to feed these curs with biscuits (never seen them giving food to humans) and so their numbers are many and the baying of the hounds does not just belong to a Sherlock Holmes story, but is a nightly chorus that mingles with the sound of traffic and filters up to our home (as if in confirmation - a number of stray barks has just started up - maybe they are reading about this through dog-telepathy).

Anyway, you can imagine the joy in the Eicher home when we heard that Oma and Opa have got a cat!

In keeping with Eicher tradition, this beast has been 'donated' by folks who have left.  This was the source of most of our menagerie when growing up.  It seems that a teacher who left Woodstock School handed the cat over to a local pastor - who called up desperate to find a home - and Mum and Dad welcomed another member to Shanti Kunj.

And so please meet the newest Eicher cat!

This beautiful feline (note how better fed it is than the strawny things that we used to have in our Bombay days) was called 'Anu' by her previous owner.

The verdict is not in yet on her new name - Oma calls her "Ginger" (obviously) while Opa calls her "Pushy."  She was brought over to Shanti Kunj in a back-pack with Opa speaking soothing words to her.

Not surprisingly, she has taken to Opa - and loves to lie on his lap.  At night she is put up in the warm attic and deals with any possible rodents.  A happy place for a cat to be.

The next gen Eichers can's wait to meet the new Shanti Kunj pet!

And so at the end of a lovely wet Saturday in Thane-town, its time to be like "Ginger / Pushy" and curl up to sleep.  Bon nuit!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Two young men in heaven

We have seen death at close quarters in the last few days.  A week ago - Ben Stephens - a bright  caring young man died at the Bethany Hospital after bravely living with a brain cancer for the last year. 

Then yesterday evening another young man - perhaps 10 years older to Ben - who we will call "Balaji" - died at the Jeevan Sahara Kendra.

We have known Ben for a decade, and have charted his growth from an adolescent to a young man.  His sweet spirit and love for God shone through many of the twists and turns of his short life.  Before we as a family went to Mussoorie we paid him a visit.

Ben was having problems remembering at that point - but when we met him he was beaming.  He had just been down to CMC Vellore for a consultation - a trip which had taken a lot out of him as he felt quite sick - and the doctors there had basically said that whatever was being done here was all that could be done.  But for Ben, his conversation with us focussed on just how grateful he was to God for who God was.  "I am glad that things are really clear right now" Ben told us.

We only knew Balaji for a week.  He had been admitted at the Govt. Hospital in Thane for 2 weeks but basically did not receive any care there.  They discharged him to die at home.  His brothers - who sell vegetables on the street in down-town Thane - heard about Jeevan Sahara and brought him to us.  He was semi-conscious when he arrived - and had lost motor control below the waist.  Balaji body was wasted - so pathetically thin you wanted to cry just looking at him.

Ben had been in and out of hospitals for the past year.  Surgery on the tumor.  Radiation therapy.  Chemo.  He had gone through it all.  Whenever I saw him his eyes were steady and there was something of a smile to be seen.  Not a silly, cover-up smile, but a real, if sometimes wistful trace of a smile.  The last two times I saw Ben alive were in the ICU at Bethany.   On the second-last time - his eyes were wide open but other than the faintest movement of his eye-brows, he could not respond to us.  The ventilator helped him breath and the beep the medical monitoring systems along with his breaths punctuated the silence.   We talked and prayed with him - telling Ben we loved him.   The day before Ben died I met him again.  The eyes were distant.  There was no reaction at all.  We said that we would see Ben again.  And we mean it still.  Death is not an end for those who die in the arms of Jesus.

I saw Balaji the morning of the day he died.  Yesterday that was.  His brothers were helping him pass stool when we first came to the ward.  After this was over, bro Simon and I spent a short time with him.  We touched his gaunt arms as he looked at us with wide eyes.  He had attended an evening prayer meeting two days earlier, but yesterday morning Balaji could not respond much.  Bro Simon prayed with him as I stroked his hair.

Later in the evening Sheba went back to the centre.  Balaji was gasping for air.  The nurses put on the oxygen.  We talked with his brothers and mother.  Just after supper Sheba got the call that Balaji had passed away.  She went out into the rainy night, over to the JSK Care Centre to examine and write the death certificate.  I put our children to bed.  And prayed for Balaji's family.

On her return, Sheba told me that Balaji's brothers were so grateful that his last days had been with us.  That their brother was loved and cared for with dignity.  "Jesus came and took him away" was what Balaji's brothers told Sheba. "We will never forget the care we got here."

I knew Balaji was very weak, and that the hopes of full recovery were slim.  But I never thought that thiwould be his day of departure.

But looking back on our short time of service to Balaji and his family - I am so very grateful for what Sheba and our nursing team of Agnes, Madhuri and Dipali have been able to do.  We do not know what Balaji's life was like before - but the last week at least was one where he received love, care, dignity, peace and eternal hope.

Ben loved to play the drums - Enoch attended an early band performance and told me that the music was "VERY LOUD."  At his funeral, which we attended on Friday afternoon as a family, the singing was beautiful - with very few dry eyes as we sang 'because He lives, I can face tomorrow, because He lives, all fear is gone."   Pastor Cecil Clements remembered how Ben would worship Jesus with total abandon.  It's no accident that much of the description of God's throne by the apostle John is of the adoration of Lord that continues in unceasing glory, wave upon beautiful wave.

We saw Ben's body put into that box and then under a grey monsoonal sky, I took a handfull of mud and dropped it onto the grave, along with so many others who had come to comfort Ben's dear mother and sister.  Ashes to ashes - dust to dust.  I did not see Balaji's body being taken away.  But here is the hope - and its real:  the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised, and we shall be changed.

Who would have thought that this past week would include the deaths of these two young men.  Two very different lives whom it has been our joy to be part of in very different ways.  But I believe that both have gone ahead of us to be with our Lord. 

I looked over Jordan and what did I see? Coming forth to carry me home?  A bed of angels, coming after me. Coming forth to carry home.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Famous Five

My phone just buzzed. An SMS.  Its 22.08 and this is what it says:

Andi brother v reachd safely. Plz remem us n ur prayers

Jobel and Denny have arrived safely in Pune.   Our latest birds have flown out of the nest.  This year's crop of interns at JSK - 5 of them - have all returned to their seminaries.

Sandeep, Reshma, Denny, Jobel, and Jim

Sandeep and Reshma Gaidhare are our first married interns!  Both are studying at the Maharashtra Bible College in Bodward (near Bhusaval).  Amazingly, this college was started in 1907 by my great-grandfather Christian Eicher!  

And then there were the three musketeers from Union Biblical Seminary in Pune.   Denny Sam Jacob and Jobel E. Chacko both hail from Thiruvilla in Kerala - and their batch-mate Jim Reeves Magh from the very other part of the country - from Nagaland!  I was surprised to find out that Jim was married too - to Joyce who is ethnically Malayali.  Since she is working with a national newspaper in Pune she was not able to move with Jim here - and so we had Jim taking the bus up to Pune whenever he could!

It's our ninth year now having interns from UBS - and as I think in my minds eye over the different ones who have done their practical ministry at Jeevan Sahara I can only smile.  Each one so special.  So unique.  And each one having taken away with them insights into working with the poor in very challenging situations.  Each one of them a potential world-shaper - and by God's grace - we are already seeing how wonderfully a number of our 'alumni' are getting their hands dirty and building things that last!

Its a privilege to invest in the future.  We know that whatever we do is so limited.  So frustratingly small at times.  But here are people who have wings.  What a great joy it is to play a small part in all that they will be doing in the days to come!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Baby Adam is growing up... and its time for the next round of surgeries!

There are many amazing people among the 7 billion plus God's-image-bearers that currently populate our blue planet.  One family that we have the privilege of praying for are Raja and Jessica with their lovely sons Adam and Elliot.  

Adam is a testimony of grace.  Adam was abandonned by his birth-parents in Assam after it was clear that he had multiple deformities, he was adopted by Raja and Jessica who were working at the hospital that looked after Adam in his early days.   They write about their experiences here.  Currently the family is in the US for the next round of surgeries for Adam.  Here is a letter from them.  Do pray and see what you can do to partner with this remarkable family!

Raja and Jessica here. We wanted to update you all on the happenings of our lives.

We are currently in the US for the summer. It has been 13 months since our last season in the US.

This was surely a full year and we glimpsed our Lord's hands in magnificent ways. Adam has grown and matured so much. It is amazing to see our Lord nourish and strengthen him. He will turn 2 years in September. Our precious son, Elliot Justice, was born and will be a year in September. Our year was full of bike rides, discovering shadows, and learning to press into the heart of Jesus as a Father. We long to love these boys well and we pray such a strong friendship and brotherhood between those 2.

If Adam was used by our Lord to teach us so much on Hope, Elliot surely has been a tool to teach us Joy. And we are so thankful.

We also had a precious girl, Meena, live with us for this past year. Her story is one of incredible heartache yet also threaded with such Hope and evidence of our Lords pursuing Love and Redemption plan for mankind. She is currently living in Musoorie, India and has been hired at a Christian cafe, called Chaaya Cafe. She will work there for at least 6 months and then consider whether she will continue there or something else. We are full of hope for her future and trust our Abba Father to continue to provide for her. We surely miss her (as do Adam and Elliot) but feel as though there is such a purpose to this time away and her time working towards independence.

We returned to the US in mid-May to rest and recover before Adam's surgeries start. We have a full week of appointments coming up. On Friday the 14th and Tuesday the 18th, we have 10 appointments with different specialists re: surgery planning. For the most part, this years surgeries will be cleft palate repair, L eye surgery, and planning for prosthesis. There will be a lot of therapies involved as well. They also plan to evaluate Adams tracheostomy tube and whether it can be replaced with a different type (to help him talk) or if it can be removed.

It is hard to speak of his surgeries without acknowledging the incredible financial need pending. We have been told that $150,000 is needed to be raised for this year's surgeries. This is a predicted amount to cover all surgeries, doctor fees, medications, etc. At times, we are tempted to give into doubt and questioning. But we have to trust that "He who began a good work is faithful to bring it to completion" and that He is surely our Provider. We have seen such incredible purpose to Adam's life. He has been  such a picture of the Gospel to us and thousands of others again and again. We trust that Jesus is at work and that He will be faithful to provide all that is needed. 

We share these things with you because we want to ask you again to walk in faith with us. First of all, would you consider partnering with us in prayer and encouragement? We surely need it. Secondly, would you consider giving, if you are in a place to give? And could you share the word with your friends? We are prepared to see Him move mountains and would love for you to be a part of this journey with us.

You can find ways to give at our family blog, (click the button that says "click to give")

Also, you can subscribe to the blog and receive all updates, regularly, through your email inbox, but typing your email address into the option that says "Follow baby adams journey by email".

***If you would rather not go thru the blog link, there is a direct link to the Medical Foundation as well.

All funds continue to be collected thru the Medical Foundation of NC. Their website is here:

Also, if you have ideas for fundraising, please share. We are open to ideas;)

Saturday, 15 June 2013


Welcome to our new Centre!

On Wednesday we welcomed a bunch of folks for an evening of prayer and celebration - the re-dedication of our rennovated JSK In-Patient Care unit.

What a privilege to have such wide variety of folks come - people who have been with Jeevan Sahara Kendra as supporters from when we started up 11 years ago, people living with HIV - who may be admitted here sometime in the future, people from local churches, family members of staff, folks who have attended our trainings, Bethany hospital leaders... and of course the JSK staff family too!

We gathered to pray and thank God for what He has done so far.

Dr. Stephen Alfred gave a moving challenge based on the great move of God among the Israelites at the time of Nehemiah - a radical change that was centered on devotion to God - and which culminated in the amazing truth that 'the joy of the Lord is your strength.'   How much we have seen that over the years. 

Sheba shared about 4 key patients whom we were able to care for in different ways - a skeletal man who was brought back from death's door - an abandoned woman who the local govt. hospital had sent home to die from her tuberculosis, but who is very much alive and kicking today - a young orphan girl who is dying of what is likely to be a cancer, but who is being helped in palliation - and a young unmarried woman who gave birth to her child and looked after him for 2 months while we gave anti-HIV treatment, and once it was clear the child was negative, gave him for adoption.

Each life we at Jeevan Sahara Kendra are called to be part of is precious.  And it is a joy to be in a place where people with HIV who are sick can be treated with love and dignity.

And so before we knew it, we were lined up in the corridor, before the big yellow door which has served to keep the dust of the construction away during the long months of the rennovation.

But this time we were having a dedication prayer - a plea to God by bro KV Simon - to let this place be a place of blessing and healing.

And we know that God answers prayers. 

During his comments, Dr. Stephen mentioned meeting an elderly couple who pray for Jeevan Sahara Kendra daily.  He is 95.  She a sprightly 93.  They were missionaries in Jharkhand and keep all things India close to their hearts.   We are reaping the blessings of their faithful intercession.

A simple snip, and the red ribbon falls.

A new world awaits.

Its an honour for us that one of our dearest families who are living with HIV are the first to pull open the big temporary yellow doors and walk into the rennovated portion.

We are so proud of our friends - about the courageous steps they are taking as Positive People.  It is our privilege to walk along side them on their journey - and to have this place ready for them if and when they fall sick and need hospitalisation is such a great blessing.

Because despite all the benefits that Anti-Retroviral Therapy gives to people living with HIV, people still fall sick.   Preliminary data from our most recent biennial survey shows that of the 217 people with HIV who we have surveyed so far - 81% reported some kind of illness event in the previous 30 days!  That is a huge disease burden - one that can mainly be dealt with at home - but among the 81% are people for whom hospitalisation will really help - and in some cases it will save their lives!

Which is why we have a beautiful place like this where we can care for people with HIV when they are sick enough to need 24 hour medical care.   This is our new female ward - big enough to house 4 ladies! 

And we are blessed to have a similar ward that can house 4 men, as well as a 3 bedded TB ward for our Positive Friends who are sick with TB and need hospital care.

But on this night, the folks in the room were not there because they were sick.  They were there to celebrate another big step for Jeevan Sahara - and ask God to help us move further.

The people in the room - not the shiny floors and the clean bedsheets - are the ones that God uses as His primary agents of healing and change.

Our job is to faithfully continue in the path He draws for us.  And to 'spur each other on to love and good deeds.'

Two members of a church in Airoli were with us - they had just come from a programme where they were helping people waterproof their huts as the monsoonal onslaught has started - and have buried a man 2 weeks ago who died of AIDS.   This church continues to look after the man's HIV positive widow and children too.  We are humbled to be able to serve folks like this!

And so the evening disintegrated into a happy muddle of conversations - while the Jeevan Sahara staff and volunteers weaved in and out, serving snacks and fizzy drinks.

It's something that each member of the Jeevan Sahara team does so well: serving.

And once again our team served others - showing their love in action.

A warm welcome it was. 

A very warm welcome on a cold rainy monsoonal night in Thane.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013


Today our nestlings left the nest... again.

Not 'for forever' of course (that may take place in as soon as 5 years from now... gulp).

But for their first day of school of this academic year.

Asha has started her 7th standard, and Enoch has been promoted to 'high school' and is in 5th.  Both were excited last night and woke up early, early.

School starts at 7 AM and being the first day everyone wants to be early.  I was instructed the night before by Asha that we were to leave at 6.30 AM.  And we did.

But first we had to do what is shaping into a family tradition.

Over the last few days there have been subtle and not-so-subtle demands by the junior Eichers for 'cones.'

When I started school, on my first day of the Cathedral and Connon Infant School on Malabar hill, I was given a large (at least I think it was) paper cone with sweets in in.  This is the famous German 'Zuckertuete' ('sugar bag') which helps reluctant German school boys (and girls I think too) overcome their fear and tears on the first day of school.

Fast forward to Asha's first day - and she got a 'Zuckertuete' too - as did Enoch.  But now we have an issue - when Enoch got his, Asha wanted one too.  And so now we have - for better or for worse - what looks like is cementing in as a rock-solid Eicher tradition:  the Zuckertuete regardless of how young or old you are.

Here is what it looked like today:

And here are our scholars.  Minus their socks, shoes and ID tags (and bags full of brand new books of course), but bearing their loot - and a big 5.55 AM grin to help them jump into this year's academics!

Perhaps when Asha starts her Post Doc, her Dad will wheel around and present her with a big bag of goodies to help her overcome the fear of her lab-mates?

Home improvements

We moved in 2 years ago - but like all homes - it has taken us some time to get settled.  And the settling process continues.

The Lok Hospital shifted over to the spanking new Bethany Hospital in June 2011.  We as an HIV care team moved in to the 'old Lok Hospital building' a few days later - continuing the Jeevan Sahara Kendra in thes new digs.  But it has taken a long time, a very long time, for us to set up our in-patient centre the way we want it to be.

We are still not there yet fully - but this evening we have invited our dear friends to a prayer time to thank God for the rennovation work which will allow us to run an 11-bedded unit to care for people with HIV who need hospitalisation.

The floors are shiny, the nursing station a real beauty, toilets have been rejigged.  We have taken out some walls and bashed in some windows - so that we will now have a 3 bedded TB ward, a 4 bedded male ward and a 4 bedded female ward.

Oh, but the beds aren't all here yet.  So we will start our newest venture in humble fashion - using the three beds we have already.

Our prayers are not just that the beds we have ordered will come quickly... more importantly, our prayers are that the right people will be helped at our Community Care Centre.

We currently have enough nurses - though we will need another come July.   We currently have 3 sparkling rooms - thanks to the generosity of the Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society.  We currently have 10 years of experience of caring for people with HIV - and may I say it - led by one of the most loving and yet deeply competent doctors I know - my dear wife Sheba!

But what we need now is the right patients and families to help.  People with HIV who are sick but not so sick that they can only be cared for in an ICU with a ventilator.  People with HIV who need a caring space, where the nurses really love them and treat them with respect, where families are prayed for and counselled.

We have treated people like this over these past two years.  They have come in dribs and drabs.  One here, two there.  The numbers small because of our limited capacity, because of the challenge of retaining nurses, because of the real issues of caring for extremely sick people when they don't have a care-giver or a person willing to take legal responsibility for them.

We at Jeevan Sahara have had to make a number of really heart-breaking decisions not to admit a sick person with HIV - because of a lack of family members.  Or because they are known to have multi-drug resistant TB.

Well, we hope that this will all change.

We want to step forward in faith, to take on new challenges, to allow God to stretch our reach and serve.

At our prayer this evening we will thank God for the past.  For the dear men and women who were cared for so far.  Some of whom are walking around today - able to function again.  While many are already passed on into eternity.  Some were alive when they were brought to us in desperately sick conditions - and were taken out dead.  But all, every one of our dear friends, having been loved.

We are so proud of each of the team members who have helped care so far - and of all who are there now to take on these next challenges - and are hopeful that we will be further strengthened by more nurses.

As we step into our home improvements, two lines from a beautiful hymn come to mind:

We go in faith, our own great weakness feeling,
And needing more each day Thy grace to know...

Sunday, 9 June 2013

hunger for a king

Yes, you saw it right.  This number plate belongs to someone who identifies himself - or at least his car - as the National President of the Nazi Party - complete with swastika.

We saw this in an industrial part of North Delhi just over a week ago.  And the next day on the plane down to Mumbai I sat next to a gentleman whose business line it is to buy old ships from around the world and break them up. 

Needless to say I had a fascinating conversation with this man for most of the 2 hours our silver bird whooshed between Delhi and Mumbai.  The man had flown up earlier in the day to meet a minister about some issue.  I'll call him Mr. Vijay.   Mr. Vijay had multiple, massive plans at various points of execution, and seems to know just how to get things going.

Mr. Vijay made the morbid comment that for 'ministers don't mind if you kill a cow or kill a man - all they want is their money.'  He went on to say that the ministers all just want to make their millions while they are in office.   Mr. Vijay's hopeful monster?  That the next election will change everything and that young people will choose 'good efficient' people.


And for all the disgust that Mr. Vijay expressed about the leadership - he ruefully admitted that he was upto his eyeballs in playing the game.  Thinking back on our conversation, I realise that he was basically painting himself as a normal guy, who is just trying to make ends meet.  "Get up, eat, work, come back, drink some black label, sleep' is how Mr. Vijay summed up his life.

Hardly.  But then again, how much truth would he be able to give to a guy he is sitting next to on a flight?

But one of the interesting statements he made, when Mr. Vijay saw that I had a Bible with me, was that one of his distant relatives is an evangelist, who goes from village to village in a neighbouring country and preaches.  I am glad my seatbelt was buckled.  And if there were an open window, I may have fallen out in surprise.

Here I am talking to a chap who if what he says is even half-true, is a fellow who hobnobs with some of the biggest politicians in the state - and whose business ventures are clearly multiple orders of magnitude more than running a neighbourhood grocery store.   And he has a relative who is doing what my great-grandfather and grandfather did in the first half of the twentieth century - going village to village and preaching.

So why start with a picture of a license plate of a 'Nazi Party' supremo?  Because of the murkiness of all things leadership in our dear land of India.  And the deep desire for something better.  Behind the glitz and glamour of the most lucrative cricket league in the world - we now see a vast morass of grubby behaviour - and no real way to move out.  At the same time, more and more people push their aspirational dreams and leave their small towns and rural area for the lights of the big cities.  We see it in our work as the old and new and hyper-new Indias jostle each other.

Mr. Vijay spoke darkly about revolution.  About a time when people will be fed up with the inequality.  It was quaintly marxist for him to have that thought.  What I see around us is more of what I have seen all my life so far - the deep divide between haves and have-nots - and the willingness on most of our parts to carry on as if nothing is wrong with the picture.

Do we yearn for a leader?  A fuehrer who will set things right?   There is a white-haired gent who is pitching himself as the man with a plan with elan for the 2014 national elections.  In the other camp the tired dynasty has a young crumpled fellow who seems to be sleep-walking into oblivion.  Hardly stirring stuff.

But my readings these days tell me of a different story.  There is a mustard-seed kingdom taking root in our midst.  It has suffered many apparent defeats, often caused by its very 'success' at times, but is real.

I believe, in the Kingdom come, when all the colours bleed, into one, bleed into one... sang a once fairly simple group of Irish lads.

There are just two possible ways of looking at history.  One is the status quo, go with the flow, grab what you can, man approach.  The other centres around a Jewish carpenter who rode on a donkey into a city one day to the shouts of a rag-tag mob that He was the chosen one, the celestially appointed King who will rule in justice and truth.

A few weeks later, he left behind a group of 120 odd open-jawed men and women, looking up into the clouds into which he had disappeared.  These in turn obeyed (mercifully) what he told them in parting and went back and prayed till power from on high was poured upon them on the day when Jews celebrated that 50 days had passed since the Passover feast.

Mr. Vijay's world has been nibbled a bit by this mustard seed conspiracy.  Despite his suaveness and his apparent ease in the corridors of the powers that be, at least one of Mr. Vijay's relatives has taken the plunge and identified himself heart and soul with King Jesus.

And that's who I pledge my allegiance to.  As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

One day the kings of this earth will bring their glories into the city ruled by our soon and coming King.

I can't wait - and that's why we seek to use every moment we have to serve Him now.   So help us sweet Jesus.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Living Legends: Leela Pradhan

We went to see Leela-didi yesterday evening.

Went to see her in her bed at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences - the largest hospital in India.  She has been admitted there for 2 weeks now, awaiting her cancer surgery to remove a lump in her breast.

What comes to your mind when you go to meet a person with cancer?  What about a person who should have been operated at least 10 days ago, but whose operations kept being postponed?

Whatever comes you your mind, you can throw it away when you meet Leela-didi.

When we walked into her ward - we were greeted by a sunshine-smile that just dazzled!  "I am so happy here" she said "I have been given a 2 week holiday!"

Leela is irrepressable.  Hailing from Darjeeling this Nepali speaking lady has been part and parcel of the work of the Duncan Hospital for many years.  She was abandonned as a child and was literally picked up from a dustbin - and when she tells her story she always talks about how even in that situation she was a child in God's image and that God has a plan for her.   Leela trained as a nurse and had a calling to work in the community.  Along with her mentor Dr. Aletta Bell, she helped develop the community health programmes at Raxaul and most recently is working in setting up a pioneering palliative care at the Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital in Lalitpur.

Leela as a 'patient' is hardly bed-ridden.  Instead she gets up periodically and 'does rounds' with the other patients - praying and comforting them.   When we prayed for her, the whole ward hushed and all the patients in the beds around her soaked in the prayers given for Leela - and for them too!

When it was time to leave, Leela walked down with us.  "You aren't trying to run away?" we joked with her - all she gave was the huge smile.  We left Leela and her faithful friend Sister Mary who is her primary care-giver at this time outside AIIMS.  Leela had heard that she was posted for surgery first on the list for the next day. "We will be praying for you tomorrow when the surgery takes place."

As I write this, Leela-didi is in the theatre and will probably soon be wheeled out of surgery into post-operative care.  She went into the theatre at about 8.30 am.  Your prayers for this remarkable woman are much appreciated.