The beginning of Assisi Snehalaya with its care and research Centre for HIV/AIDS has its conception in the Circular letter of the then Provincial Custos dated August 22, 1999 under the title, “India is dying and is waiting for our response”, in which he launched the idea for the first time that the Custody should identify itself with the outcast of today, the HIV/AIDS affected people. In the Ordinary Custodial Chapter in 2003, the members accepted the suggestion of the then Provincial Custos and included in the Four-Year Plan of the Custody to plan for a Project for HIV/AIDS affected people. In his Circular Letter of June 29, 2003 the then Provincial Custos invited those Solemnly Professed friars not in formation who want to opt for this Project to contact him. Friars Ferdinand Melappilly and Giles Veliyana offered themselves for this Project. The Custodial Definitory discussed the modalities of this Project several times. Various lands were proposed to the Definitory for the Project through the search of Friar Ferdinand who was asked to search a suitable land for this Project. Finally, the Definitory decided to purchase the 21 acres and 84 cents of land at Rottikaundanur in Combatore District in the state of Tamil Nadu.
A Friary was established and blessed on 8 November 2004 and the first members of the community were friars Ferdinand, Giles and Raphael. In December, the extension of the friary began and friars started to do the groundwork for the project. The Friars organized awareness programme, workshops, community oriented programme etc., on HIV/AIDS. Meanwhile, a project proposal was given to Caritas Anthoniana for the construction of the Centre. The project was approved and the construction began in December 2005, which included the medical department and rooms for the patients. The foundation stone was blessed by V. Rev. Fr. Marco Tasca, the Provincial of Padua, and the present Minister General of our Order. It is with great gratitude that the Province of St. Maximilian Kolbe, India remembers the Province of Padua for its generosity in contributing for the first part of this project of serving the poorest of the poor.
The friars could develop a good rapport with the people around and the officials which enabled us to go forward admitting the first patient in June 2006, even before the completion of the construction. On 3 September 2006 the first part of the Centre was blessed by His Excellency Mar. Jacob Manathodath, Bp. Of Palakkad and Mr. P. Munivelu DIG of the Prisons, Tamil Nadu inaugurated the administrative block and Dr. K. Mahadevan, Head of the Department of STDs, Coimbatore Medical College, officially inaugurated the Medical Department.
The blessing of God worked through the hands of our beloved benefactors of Malta that we were able to construct the second phase of the project namely, the patients’ ward, the kitchen and dining hall. The inauguration and blessing of the second phase took place on 30 November 2007. Ms. SupriyaSahuIAS, the Project Director of TNSACS, together with Mr. FrangiskuAttard, the sponsor of the second phase did the inauguration. Fr. Ugolino Xerri, the Mission Promoter of Maltaofficiated in the Blessing ceremony.
With the completion of this second phase, we are able to accommodate 50 patients, most of whom are children. Now the next phase of the construction namely the children’s Hostel and school is in progress.
The Centre is fortunate to have Dr. K. Mahadevan, who is giving his medical service to the Centre. We refer all our patients to the Government Hospital, Coimbatore for their medical care. The Centre is at present a member of Coimbatore NGO network (CNN) an organization by Non-Governmental Officers (NGO) for HIV/AIDS.
The aims of the Centre:
» Providing integral health care for People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA) to improve their quality of life.
» Providing compassionate care and support to those who are in the last stage of life with HIV/AIDS.
» Extending psycho-social and spiritual service to PLHA and community based care to them.
» Preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS through awareness programs and informational support.
» Providing training programs for animators and health workers.
Net working with other NGOs.