Monday 30 March 2020

Maltese NGO raising funds for an ambulance to assist Indian lepers

Leah Pattison, founder of Women in Need (WIN), a UK charity operating in Nagpur, India, is appealing to raise funds for a second ambulance. “One idea that we would like to expand on,” explained Ms Pattison, “is that of developing a mobile clinic network, inspired by the US Mobile Healthcare Association which “promotes and serves the mobile healthcare sector through advocacy, education and research in order to increase access to care for all.”

In March 2019, Leah was presented with the MBE insignia by H.R.H. Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace for services to underprivileged women in India. 

For the past eight years, WIN has been the recipient of ongoing support from a Maltese NGO called the Grand Commandery of the Castello (VO/1558). Based at Castello Lanzun in Mensija, San Ġwann, the Grand Commandery is an ecumenical jurisdiction with members hailing from eight different countries. The jurisdiction forms part of the Military and Hospitaller Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem established in Jerusalem in the 11th century.

Marking World Leprosy Day, observed around the world on the last Sunday of January, and to assist Ms Pattison, the Grand Commandery has launched the ‘Women In Need Ambulance Appeal Fund’. The raised funds will go towards the purchase of the new TATA Winger ambulance for WIN estimated to cost nearly €19,000. The donation will further enable WIN to provide free primary health care to thousands of women and children in the deprived communities of Nagpur city through the charity’s mobile primary health care programme.

“As the new year renews our voluntary commitment, hope keeps glowing in our hearts. Donating towards the ambulance fund would be a wonderful kind deed, no matter how small or large the donation is. This would be the best and most beautiful form of charity, because these persons suffering from leprosy cannot thank us personally. This way, our donation will truly be a gift from the heart for the benefit of human beings like us,” said Carmel Bonello, the head of the Grand Commandery.  

In recent years, a substantial part of the charitable funds raised by the Grand Commandery’s social events have gone towards WIN’s various needs in India, especially where lepers are concerned. Donations from Malta included a mobile primary health clinic in Nagpur’s urban slums (see photo); a small hospice for elderly leprosy patients at Dattapur; beds and equipment for abandoned women sheltered by WIN; an autorickshaw for the hospice; the creation of a garden for abandoned women; and, more recently, an iBreastExam (iBE) device enabling WIN to provide free breast cancer screening in remote villages in order to save lives.

Ms Pattison said: “We thank the council and members of the Grand Commandery of the Castello for their exceptional ongoing support. We appeal to the public in Malta and Gozo to support the Grand Commandery of the Castello so that this voluntary organisation can further strengthen its mission to assist and relieve our brothers and sisters afflicted by leprosy in India.”

Donations for ‘Women In Need Ambulance Appeal Fund’ (WAAF) can be sent via sms: 5061 6127 for €1.16, 5061 7306 for €2.33, 5061 7921 for €4.66, 5061 8809 for €6.99 u 5061 9251 for €11.65.

Bank details are Swift code VALLMTMT; IBAN number:  MT34 VALL 2201 3000 0000 4001 8632 226; Bank name: Bank of Valletta, Account number 4001 8632 226. 

More information is available at grandcommanderymalta.org or by contacting the Chancellor, Confrere Alan Miller, at [email protected] or by calling on 9942 7457.

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