Ashraya, a refuge for hundreds of singles mothers in messy Mumbai

» 09/14/2011 17:09

by Santosh Digal
Founded in 1992 in Mumbai, the women’s shelter is run by the Jesuits and Sisters Adorers. Since 2006, its religious and lay volunteers have helped more 600 women. We “help women examine their lives through eyes of love, thus helping them regain faith in themselves,” sister Jane said.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Ashraya, a women’s shelter run by the Jesuits and the Sisters Adorers in Mumbai, provides help to broken families and serves as a haven for battered women who want to take control of their lives. Founded in 1992, it has welcomed single mothers victimised by family abuse, poverty and prostitution. Since 2006, more than 600 young women have turned their lives around, helped by job placement programmes and psychological and spiritual assistance offered lay volunteers. The shelter is part of a 16-unit network for the poor, orphans and sick operating across metro Mumbai.

“Single mothers are a vital part of our society,” said Sister Jane, who runs the centre. “Surviving alone in this city is a challenge for a single woman.”

Rasjhree is a case in point. The young woman came to Mumbai from West Bengal, the sister said. She was looking for work after her husband left her when she was two-month pregnant.

After falling into the hands of human traffickers, Rajshree decided to take her own life. A volunteer saved her by getting her into the shelter. Two months later she gave birth to a son and thanks to the action of the religious and psychologists, she was reunited with her husband.

“Many women come to us for some comfort after they were abandoned by their husbands,” Sister Jane explained. “Some are eventually able to rebuild their family. Others stay here and after a few months find a place in society on their own. But they still keep in touch with us.”

Ashraya is much more than a shelter. It helps women examine their lives through eyes of love, thus helping them regain faith in themselves.

“It is easier to work with young women who just had a problem and are willing to accept help,” she said. “However, the great challenge is with women who have deep and painful scars.” For them, medical specialists are available. This is especially the case with middle class women who suffer from depression.

Treatment is free, the nun explained, but this means that Ashraya is always in need of funds.

“We have faith in God’s providence,” Sister Jane said. “He created us and has precise plans for us. In our small way, we contribute love, care and support for all those who turn to us.”

“God gave his Son for our salvation. Our sacrifices contribute to God’s works on this earth.”