Page 1, 21st December 1973

21st December 1973
Page 1
Page 1, 21st December 1973 — Desperate plight of Calcutta's poor

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Locations: Chicago, Calcutta


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Desperate plight of Calcutta's poor

Calcutta is home for "the poorest of the poor." Every morning at 3 a.m. carts begin their rounds of the city, and those who have died during the night are thrown aboard and taken to be buried.

Fr. Trovers-Ball — he prefers to be called Bro. Andrew — is a Missionary of Charity, who seeks to minister to the needs of Calcutta's poor. The Missionaries of Charity were founded in 1950 by Mother Teresa and have since grown to


900 Bros. in ten. countries.

Peop. die on the streets because they live on the streets, Bro. Andrew said in Chicago. They die on the streets, and they are carried away to make room for someone else.

In the Home for the Dying, established by Mother Teresa,. some 30,000 people haVe died. "But it's amazing," Bro, Andrew added, "that one half of the people who come here to die fully recover with just a little bit of food or some simple medicine." Catholic Relief Services. the overseas aid agency of United States Catholics, he said, helps the missionaries to feed more than 3,000 children a day. "It's not a very interesting meal either, just some corn meal, sugar and milk," he said. "But it's all they have."

The missionaries also operate a small home for people suffering from emotional or mental problems, Bro. Andrew said. There is only one government hospital designed for the mentally ill, and that hospital can accommodate only 35 men and 2,5 women.

People with mental problems who cause trouble are locked in jails. Those who can still function in society are allowed to roam the streets with the rest of the people.

"Calcutta is a desperate, miserable place," he added. "It's a big city and you get the feeling it is falling to pieces. The hot, moist climate destroys the buildings.

"People sit on the tops of buses during the rush hour. A bank had 28,000 people apply for 40 openings in their office. The streets crawl with people from early morning to late night. People are just everywhere, 300 to each acre of land.

"We're needed there. 1 learn a lot from those people. There is a strange peace and cheerfulness in their eyes when they come to us to die. With all of their suffering, they can still die like angels."

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