She is often considered the Mother Teresa of Garo Hills. Her dedication to the people of the region despite being a “foreigner” made her one of the most revered persons in Meghalaya.
Sister Guadalupe, who came to the region when she was a young Spanish nun, has spent around seven decades of her life here to serve the lepers who were rejected as the scum of the society. At 94, Sister Guadalupe can hardly hear and refuses to talk about her vast experiences as she cannot remember most of them.
However, Sister Elizabeth, who has worked closely with Sister Guadalupe spoke to Sunday Shillong. She said Sister Guadalupe came to Tura at a time when the leper colony was the ostracised part of the town and none would allay the sufferings of the patients. Sister Guadalupe was moved by their plight and loneliness and decided to settle down in Tura, never to go back. Over the years she became an inspiration for many to work for the downtrodden with equal dedication.
“Still now, she makes it a point to visit each family in the colony. Now, they are in a better condition. Their children are not lepers and we have taken care of them and treated them so that they never get the disease. The children from the leper colony are either studying in various missionary schools here or they are working as doctors or nurses,” said the 77-year-old Sister Elizabeth who also came to Tura as a young woman in 1964. “I came to help the sisters here but I was so moved by the work they are doing that I decided to stay here,” she added.
Sister Elizabeth, who is from Mumbai, joined the congregation in 1970 and was sent to the North East. The Catholic missionary said when her parents asked her why she wanted to go to a remote area such as Tura, she told them that if a person like Sister Guadalupe could come from another country and take up the cause of the suffering souls in this country “then why can’t I do the same because after all they are my countrymen”.
Talking about the effervescent Sister Guadalupe, Sister Elizabeth said the senior missionary is always joyful and energetic and “walks uphill and downhill to meet the lepers”.
Sister Pushpa, who joined the congregation four years ago, agreed. “Her energy surprises us. She does not want to leave India and says she wants to die here, in her land,” she said.
Has the Mother Teresa of Garo Hills ever met the real Mother? “No,” Sister Pushpa prompted the senior missionary’s words.
Sister Guadalupe was felicitated on the occasion of International Women’s Day this year at Dikki Bandi Stadium in Dakopgre. She is the ‘lady with the lamp’ for the destitute and her undaunted spirit, even at her age, brings hope to dejected hearts and shows the way to a better future.