Sister Bertilla rides through the slums of Mumbai with her bike, looking for and curing people with leprosy. In addition to this, she takes care of the kids (starting from 4 years old) of leprosy parents or orphans and offers them shelter, food and an education. She brings the kids to the “Vimala center”, hence the race name.
Over the years some of the kids even managed to enroll in college, starting from the slums that’s quite an achievement! The Vimala is going through financial difficulties, the crisis of recent years taking a toll on them as well. Sister Bertilla is always optimistic and has managed to keep things going for some 40 years, but we know that they could use help… and we hope that simracers can provide some of it!
A Formula Giving representative visits the place in Mumbai roughly each year. Below is her story and her pictures.
Vimala Dermatological Centre
“The Vimala Dermatological Centre is a registered charitable organization located in Mumbai. Founded in 1976, with the aim to detect leprosy cases in Mumbai and provide medical and surgery treatment free of cost, the Centre can host up to 80 patients in its wards. The method used by the Centre, consisting of regular checkups, diagnosis and treatments, allowed to cure over 20.000 patients since 1976.
Sister Bertilla Capra is the heart of the Centre. With over 40 years of missionary life in India, she rides her bike to the slums of Mumbai searching for sick people and offering the help they need at the Centre. Her motto is: “I’m not here to convert anybody, but to help people”.
Nine Sisters take care of the patients on a daily basis. The hospital offers all the facilities required for medical and surgical treatment. The inpatients are provided with free treatment, food and accommodation. The therapies are very expensive and Sister Bertilla can only count on donations to continue her mission.“
The Boarding School
“In order to ensure a better future for the children of leprosy patients, in 1993 the Centre started a boarding service. Currently 85 girls from jr KG to grade 10 are accommodated in the boarding. Without the help of Sister Bertilla the girls would not get regular meals, clothes and a safe place to leave in, let alone an education. Thanks to the Centre, since 1993 hundreds of girls were able to get a high school degree and a future. Some of them went to college and got a job that changed their life.
Food, clothing and education costs about 1000 euro/year for each girl. Sister Bertilla says that it is hard to find the money to support the girls but everytime she is about to lose hope something good happens, allowing to keep them going: a bag of rice or cereals left at her door by anonimous neighbours, old clothes sent by wealthy families, an unexpected donation.
Traveling to India on business trips, every year we have the chance to visit the Centre. The girls are wonderful. Every time they make us feel welcome with their smiles and laughter. They have no toys but they play happily with us. We give them candies and they save them for later.
“Calling us “aunties”, they never fail to thank us and it is a heartfelt thank you. They all seek individual attention and want us watch them playing. Last time we went there we asked what they would like to have most and they all answered “a teddy bear”. Knowing that they never had a soft toy is heartbreaking.”
Help the Vimala Center
Caring for one kid costs 600-800 Euro per year. This includes all food, clothes, education, accommodation and expenses.
Formula Giving hopes to raise approximately 2000 Euro with each race, an average of just over 30 Euro per driver. It is really not much for each of us simracers, but it would literally save the life of two kids and give them a future. With one race per year, we simracers can have a significant impact on the life of two or more kids.
A Formula Giving representative visits the place in Mumbai roughly each year. All the donated money will therefore go directly to Mumbai. No intermediaries, no expenses, overheads or whatever.
Below is a thank you from the kids to the simracers and anyone that donated during the first “Formula Giving: Race for Vimala” in 2018, which raised over 2300 euro for the Vimala!