Ashes to Ashes… Dust to Dust [Archives:1998/32/Last Page]

August 10 1998

  “The fruit of love is service; 
The fruit of service is peace” -Mother Teresa
A special meeting was held at the Indian Embassy in Sanaa on Monday, August 3rd to pay tribute to the 3 nuns killed by an insane fanatic in Hodeida, on July 27th.
The successor to the great Mother Teresa, Sister M. Nirmala, Superior General of the Society of Missionaries of Charity came to Yemen specially to condole the nuns working here in the aftermath of the killing. “The killing of the 3 sisters came as a deep shock for every body. Nobody expected this. At the same time we know when we follow the word of God, we must be ready for everything,” said the serene-looking, soft spoken, petite Sister Nirmala.

Does any one of the sisters feel strongly disheartened or being let down as to want to leave?
“Nobody wants to leave. We are going to continue staying in the country because we have given our life to God for His people. We want to continue this service, which we love,” resolutely replied the Superior General.
During her visit to the Hodeida center, where the sad incident took place, Sister Nirmala met the nuns and the elderly and disabled inmates. “Many of the old people are afraid because they think we are going to leave the country. But we assured them otherwise. The sisters, though frail looking, are strong in spirit. But emotions are still a bit raw,” she announced.
Overseeing the burial of the slain sisters in an Aden Catholic cemetery, the senior nun said: “We are missionaries – our mission is our country. Wherever we die, we are buried.”
Two armed guards will be temporarily stationed at the gate of the Hodeida center to ensure the nuns’ safety. Also, the sisters will now live in special living quarters at the workplace itself, hence they do not have to commute every day to and from their centers. “We are depending very much on God and His protection,” said the faithful sister. She added, “We are grateful to the government and people of Yemen for all their help and sympathy in this unfortunate incident.”Sister Nirmala; Sister Raphael, Regional Superior of the Missionaries of Charity (based in Amman, Jordan) and Sister M. Aroti, head of the Sanaa mission talked to the Minister of Health, Dr. Abdullah A. Nasher about ensuring the safety of the nuns working in the Missionaries of Charity’s 4 centers in Yemen.
“The Ministry of Health had booked a hotel room for sister Nirmala during her stay. But she, out of sheer humility and feeling of equality, preferred to stay with the other sisters in their ordinary residence,” disclosed the minister.
“It is a very sad and shocking incident. The perpetrator is now under arrest and investigations are underway. He will be punished according to the law,” insisted Minister Nasher.
“Neither the Ministry nor the sick, elderly and disabled people being taken care of by these sisters can do without their assistance. All necessary protection is given to these sisters at their workplace and residence,” he explained.
“They provide a very distinguished service and we hope that they expand their activities in the future. It is very difficult for many Yemenis to do the sisters’ job. They are now taking care of more than 400 patients in 4 centers in Sanaa, Taiz, Hodeida and Aden. Many more patients are waiting to be taken in. The Ministry’s resources are, unfortunately, very limited and the Missionaries of Charity cannot send us more nuns either.”
Sister Aroti of the Sanaa mission told Yemen Times, “We are quite shocked because we are very much loved by the people. They care about us as we care about them. But we are determined to stay and work in this country because who is going to look after our people. This is why we came here in the first place.”The sisters have been here for the last 25 years. There are homes for the elderly and abandoned men and women in all in 4 centers. They also look after sick people afflicted with diseases such as leprosy which makes them outcasts in Yemeni society.
“The Sanaa center is home for 35 handicapped children and about 55 elderly men and women. Some of them were picked up from the streets or from hospitals or even taken from poor families who cannot cope with taking care of them,” said Sister Aroti
The killing of the 3 sisters, though very sad, seems to have provided stronger motivation for the other nuns to stay in Yemen and continue the good work. They feel the mission.
But the event also galvanized the Yemenis around the sisters. All kinds of Yemenis – starting with President Ali Abdullah Saleh, all the way to the most ordinary person have been shocked and disgusted with the attack on the sisters. They have asked for the capital punishment to be immediately passed on the murderer.
By: Adel J. Moqbil,
Yemen Times