[Sr. Maria Ange B.S. was a teacher by profession. She retired as Headmistress at Rosa Mystica high school Kinnikambla. Now residing at Bethany convent mother house Bendoor.]
An Angel of Mercy
I was unaware of neither Snehalaya nor its founder Mr. Joseph Crasta and his life in Manjeshwar until I read in a newspaper about the "Snehalaya Manna", a daily free meal program he had started a few years ago for the nearly 700 poorstand-byy at-tenders of the poor patients at the Government Wenlock Hospital, Mangalore. I was touched by his merciful love for the poor. So I spoke to him over the phone and expressed my appreciation for his selfless and brave venture to help the helpless. After that, we began to communicate with each other and he occasionally started visiting me in spite of his busy schedule. Thus I came to know of his humane, selfless, simple, and outgoing nature by taking the lead to serve the ones about whom society doesn't care or shows concern through deeds of kindness.
Through my association with him I have learned a lot and his work along with his team. Now, Snehalaya is in the 11th year of its existence. The Founder and Director of Snehalaya, Mr. Joseph Crasta has become "An Angel of Mercy", a shining example, a witness of the compassionate and merciful love of God. He and his family live together with the inmates of Snehalaya. His humanitarian service has hundreds of incidents, one such case that disturbed him was when he saw a mentally ill, dirty, hungry destitute young man feeding himself from the dustbin kept on a street corner, along with the street dogs and cats. This sight touched his heart and gave him a turn in his life. He somehow persuaded him to sit in his rickshaw and took him home, bathed him and dressed him in fresh clothes, fed him, and began to take care of him. When he saw more and more such people on the streets, he began to rescue them and took the task as a Mission. Seeing them getting better, healthier, peaceful, and happy, he continued doing the same for more people. By then he realized that God has called him for this special mission. He saw the opportunity to serve the children of God and thus he became a man of vision, action, and mission. Seeing the result of his selfless social service, some like-minded people joined him and began to render help. Thus, those who live on streets and pavements, destitute, outcast and downtrodden, mentally retarded, physically and mentally sick children and adults, hungry, naked, crippled, lepers, blind, uncared for and unloved and shunned by everyone became the members of his extended family. Their security became his security, and their health and well-being became his well-being. So he began to provide not only food and shelter to them but also good medical care. Snehalaya campus is situated at Bachalike near Manjeswar which has become a landmark by itself. Separate buildings for men and women psycho-social rehabilitation center, good and dedicated staff & doctors, nurses, and permanent volunteers are rendering loving service cheerfully make the campus outstanding in service. Donors, well-wishers, priests, nuns, and a huge team of supporters contribute their share in their own way. Snehalaya caters the diversified humanitarian service to society. Through the regular service inmates by providing care, training, medical aid, treatment, and rehabilitation of the mentally ill destitute, they have established a facility for the neglected senior citizens named Shanthi Dham, during the corona pandemic social reach-out activities, distributing food and medical kits to more than 1300 families is remarkable, during the floods, land slights the Snehalaya team was present to wipe their tears and empower them, support them and rescue them in several circumstances. Providing free meals is another joyful activity carried out by Joseph & his team 700 meals each day for more than 6 years, during corona for migrants, travelers, and volunteers the service was extended.
Snehalaya has provided housing for around 8 families in just 5 months, and repaired around 25 damaged houses of the poor. The dedicated volunteers have walked miles and miles to accomplish this mission. Medical aid, educational sponsorship, rescuing alcoholics and admitting them to de-addiction centers, and free counseling are some of the major activities that have made Snehalaya different from other institutions.
Regular free Medical Camps like Dental camps, Eye Camps, HIV, etc., are organized for the people of the village and the inmates. The inmates are provided excellent recreation facilities, Outings and picnics, games, and sports are conducted on special occasions. One of the praiseworthy activities is their transparent documentation. The center has become a role model to many. Their biannual newsletter "Sneha Sparsh", a private circulation is published to inform the public about the work done by Snehalaya Trust. It is very informative and motivational. Thus, Mr. Joseph Crasta has become an example and inspiration to witness God's, merciful love. His service is accepted with joy, gratitude, and admiration. He has become an unasked God's gift, of his love, compassion, and providence, especially to those who are hungry for love and being abandoned by their own. In his home, such people get acceptance, love, peace, concern, care, and comfort. When Jesus spoke about the 'Last Judgement' he said, "... as you did to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me". (Mt 25:40) Let me quote here the words of Joseph, "It does not matter how big or small that you give, but it gives hope for someone to live", and request your cooperation, help, and support to Snehalaya in your own way. I also request your prayers for the well-being of his family, and all the inmates and staff of Snehalaya who work there with Mr. Joseph Crasta, the Founder and Director of Snehalaya. May God bless and reward him.
[Shri Rafiq Master, known for his teaching excellence, is now a full-time social worker. He opted out of his teaching profession through voluntary retirement at the age of 40 years, as his passion was social work. He was a government employee and taking up voluntary retirement means his vision was excellent. He started working as an honorary counselor at Talent Research foundation, a renowned NGO in Mangalore. A staunch supporter of Snehalaya]
I SEE A SAINT IN BR. JOSEPH
I see a Saint in Br. Joseph Crasta About ten years back, I had been to the SAHAYA TV office along with the chairman of Talent research, Shri. Riyaz Kannur. The manager of Sahaya TV, Sadashiv Das showed us a video. On watching that video, we were excited. Mental ill patients, stinky, without a bath for months together, full of nuggets in the wounds & sours. The looks were horrible. They were being attended. We saw a great man in a simple dress giving them a clean shave, brushing their teeth, bathing them, cleaning their wounds, bandaging, and caring for them lovingly. We were moved by his gestures. Our curiosity increased.
We could not sleep that night. The same vision was recapping in my mind. I desired to see that great personality. The very next day, we both went to his ashram at Kunjuntur. The place had many mentally ill patients. So innocent, not knowing about their whereabouts, their condition, roaming without any directions, eating from dust bins, taking shelter in bus stands or streets, have landed here. We introduced ourselves to a great soul, a kind gentleman Joseph Crasta, who was serving them. Our acquaintance turned to friendship and for the last decade, I am part of their mission. Our friendship is strong & sweet. I have hosted many of Sneha laya’s events and sometimes as a guest, I am providing my minimal service. Shaikh Rifai, a saint, attended & treated a leprosy dog and therefore he was crowned as the greatest of all saints.
The compassionate Mother Teresa became a great mother to for the service rendered to lepers. They are a symbol of love, mercy, service and compassion. Perhaps I did not have the good fortune of meeting Shaiekh Rifai & Mother Teresa. But the Almighty was kind enough to get me associated with a merciful, spiritual, kind and compassionate human being, Joseph Crasta. We are in a time of discarding our own parents and sending them to old age homes. We are extremely selfish, think nuclear; I, my wife and my children. At such a backdrop caring the uncared, loving the unloved without knowing them, their caste, religion, who were on streets, mentally ill being picked attended, treated, cured, shaved, bathed, sheltered, feeding them is a divine humanitarian task. Reaching them home, provide them new lease of life and make them live like a renewed human.
I sometimes think what is the use of my hands if I cannot salute such a comrade of service, Joseph Crasta? Why am I holding a tongue that does not appreciate him? Why am I not writing about them? As I have seen, Br Joseph and his team's humanitarian service is truly worth following and appreciative of. He does not see caste or religion. He is not hesitant to ask for help from anyone for the work he does. No promotion, no award creeper. The doors of his ashram is always open. It is a universal garden.
At the entrance of the ashram, we can see the portraits of three personalities belonging to three major religions. That's how He honors all religions. He does not wear foot wares but moves around swiftly. I see a living saint in him. Straight talks, no deceit in the heart, a calm mind, courage, and a person who can face any challenge calmly. Always active as mercury. He is a man of great faith and trusts in the help of the unseen hands. A person who can build friendship bridges with any person. He is an aspirer to take the service to the next level. His loving words with humility, helping hands, prayerful mind, the promptness in reaching out to the needy are the only assets Br Joseph holds. Hundreds of people sheltered at the ashram, duly recovered and rehabilitated back to their families is the greatest contentment to Joseph. Each such moment is a feast to the eyes and pleasing to ears when the union takes place.
The silent prayer of the family members is thus answered. These are probably the greatest moments for Joseph. He is the one who feeds the hungry in the hospitals, and people on the street. For all these great reasons, Br. Joseph is an inspiration to me. I have dedicated my life to social service. That is why I took up voluntary retirement from Govt. service at forty years. But sometimes when I am frustrated with my work, I run to Snehalaya. One hug from Joseph his kind words rejuvenate me, like an energy drink. Such a human touch he possesses. May the humanitarian activities of Br. Joseph manifests, progress in the manifold. May the Almighty's immense blessings be upon him. I wish & pray that people's cooperation, and help be flown from all corners to support his mission. The greatest task in the world is to bloom a smile on the faces of the least. Last & the lost.
[Associate Professor & HOD of Medical Social Work, Yenepoya (Deemed to be University), Deralakatte. PhD, MPhil, MSW, DSD. He played a key role in starting the MSW Department at YMC Hospital and collaborating with Service organizations for extension of health services under 'Yen Sahayog' program. He is the founder trustee of DISHA Trust(R), Kaikamba - Mangaluru and Secretary of D.K.Parisarasaktha Okkoota(R) Mangaluru. He is an orator, trainer, freelance writer and consultant for development NGOs.]
THE ARCHITECT OF SNEHALAYA
Joseph Crasta, the architect of Snehalaya who devoted his life for the disabled. Every individual born in this society aspires to contribute something to the society regardless of their religion. But it is rare that everyone's wishes are fulfilled. If it has to be a reality it needs strong determination, the right context, the right motivation and guidance. That's the reason only few individuals engrave lasting impression on society and are recognised. Among such individuals Mr. Joseph Crasta, of Snehalaya stands tall today amidst us. Mr. Joseph Crasta's introduction to me has been over a decade.
I didn't know about Snehalaya till I visited them. I was head of the Medical Social Work department at Yenepoya Medical College Hospital. For an extension service program of Yenepoya Medical College Hospital, named "Yen-sahayog", we had to identify a service organization to provide free health care services to patients, mentally ill, neglected, victims, elderly and children, especially being cared in center. Dr. Sunita Saldanha, of the hospital's administrative unit, referred Snehalaya run by Mr. Joseph Crasta and requested me to cross verify. And that's how I was introduced to Mr. Joseph and met him. It was during this visit I was convinced of his motto, the intended beneficiaries and the valuable work being done. He picked the patients from streets especially the abandoned by their families, destitute, mentally ill sheltered on street sides, bus shelters, open grounds etc. Pick them through ambulance, clean them, medicate them, feed them, shelter them and rehabilitate them is an uphill task done by Mr. Joseph. The work is truly extraordinary. I personally was excited & impressed the work which is admirable by society and pleasing to God.
Joseph personally narrated his life story and the inspiration to start Snehalaya. He hailed from a middle class family, not of being financially sound, but the richness of his heart, the generous support of friends, donors and well-wishers could make Joseph a man what he is today. I had read such service activities in the newspapers but never thought so deeply about it. I was not aware that there was such a service agency in our very neighbourhood. This bond, which began due to our work has built an attachment so strong with Snehalaya in respect of his works.
Mr. Joseph was a bus driver, an addict to alcohol, once attended a retreat at Potta, Kerala, and became a changed man thereafter. I still remember him saying that Jesus gave me a new spirit and inspired me to serve the down trodden. Later he ran an auto for livelihood. He was distracted by an incident what he saw and he lifted the victim, brought home, treated and cared. That prompted him to provide some shelter to the needy and thus Snehalaya was established. Then there was no turning back. I have seen him extending hands with the public irrespective of any religion to help him carry on the mission. We have seen the growth and development of the organisation closely. I have allotted our students for internship and to study the service provided there. That was my tiny contribution to the mighty works of Joseph. The small set up started near Thalapady, with the help of donors & well-wishers, was later shifted to the present campus at Manjeswar was rather a great adventure! But the help of donors are the strength for the works, he mentions. Although I had learnt about such services during my Master's Degree in Social Work and later working with different organization, I believed on the principle that people should be self-reliant & make their own development possible. I was aware of how difficult it is to run a welfare programs and rehabilitation centre. That why I endorse that Mr. Joseph's work is of great importance. In the past one decade I have observed the up & downs of Snehalaya. The Yenepoya Medical College Hospital has an understanding contract to cater service through the "Yen-Sahayog" program, which provides health care to patients
There are many DREAMS in Mr. Joseph's mind. There is great concern for the down trodden in the society. Despite the obstacles he moves on. He is not after prize-winning awards. Joseph's passion and determination continues whether people appreciate or raise challenges. He has been able to maintain the goodwill and charm with everyone. 'Paths are not made on its own; they are made by walking'. This saying rightly applies to Mr. Joseph. I earnestly pray & wish to see the progeny of such achievers grow.
[Stephan Herald Mascarenhas, (Hemacharya) hails from Kinnigoly, Mangalore, a graduate from Mysore University; holds a Diploma in Journalism and Mass Communications, Trained in Quality Assurance and TQM from American Business Systems and Tuv Bayren (India); Certified Lead Auditor from Lloyds Register, UK. Professionally he is a Financial consultant & Lecturer at Sophia College, Breach Candy, Bombay in Finance, Administration and Quality in India, Oman and the U.A.E. for reputed organizations Worked as Admin & Quality Assurance Manager for a shipping company in Dubai. Currently Managing Director of Daijiworld Publications Pvt Ltd and editor in chief of daijiworld (International)English Magazine Founder of Ujwal Prakashan, A Regular contributor for Konkani and Kannada media. Had been on the Editorial board of prominent Konkani Journals. Worked as a regional reporter for Prajaprabutva, a Kannada Daily published from Bangalore. His Son Ian Austin, aged 26 passed away on December 23, 2017 following a car accident in Mangalore in his memory, A foundation, Ian Cares Foundation has been formed by the family to take care of rehabilitation of teenagers from drugs/drinks/smoking in Kinnigoli]
JOSEPH THE MESSIAH OF THE VOICELESS
According to Mahatma Gandhi, God is a friend and saviour of the poor. Hence he has created a few men in his image who are visible to us, those who feel the pain of the hungry, the poor and the unprivileged.
Snehalaya: Seeing is believing
As we set off from our office in Mangalore city, our journey began with a doubt & a question as to what to expect from a place called Snehalaya. We assumed that it's just like another orphanage or so called Ashram for the destitute like any other; we have featured in our twelve years of journalism. But after driving down 45 km., on the Mangalore, Kasargod highway, when we reach Manjeshwar town and ask for the direction towards Snehalaya, to our great surprise, every other person (mostly Muslims) is so excited to guide and lead us unto the right path. Although Brother Joseph Crasta, the Managing Trustee & Executive Director of Snehalaya had sent the Google Map to trace his centre we were just double checking the route so that we don't go too far. One of the passer-by even volunteered to take us through the road until our destination. We however, politely and thankfully refused his offer. We were filled with so full of excitement as we winded up our short journey and landed just in front of the gates of Snehalaya, the Psycho Social Rehabilitation Centre. There was a clear answer to both our confused doubt & the question at the first sight of the campus. Brother Joseph was there with a broad smile to welcome us, who took us into the small chapel for a brief prayer.
Who is God?
This question echoed in my mind as Brother Joseph led us through the women's wing of the Rehabilitation centre. It was like 'Seeing is believing.' It is believed that there are 84 lakh living beings, only human beings earn their living, others depend on the nature or the other beings for their daily needs. However, not a single creature on this earth goes without food. If many human beings earn and live due to their hard work, there are a few who are taken care by angels sent by God. Brother Joseph Crasta is one among them. He operates and tends to the needs of humanity from a centre called Snehalaya in Bachalike, in the 'God's own Country', the State of Kerala.
Where is Snehalaya?
The Snehalaya campus is situated in a green clad scenic plateau called Bachalike, on Pavoor Manjeswar road, in Kasargod district. Snehalaya, captures the attention at first sight, and in outlook will be mistaken for an educational institution rather than a rehabilitation centre. The centre is stretched from both sides with 10 acres of land filled with scenic beauty, both peaceful and graceful.
About Joseph Crasta
Brother Joseph was born on November 5, 1970 in Sitangoli, a small village in Kasargod to parents Marcel and Mary Crasta. He had his early education at St Bartholemia Higher Primary School, Bela and Government High School, Kumble. His father used to work in a liquor shop, and had no means to educate his three children. Hence the destiny forced Joseph to leave the school and join his father as his assistant, but it is said, much of the cash from the drawer was spent on poor destitute by a young and kind hearted Joseph.
Those were the days the schedule tribe people (who are called 'Koragas in local language) were ill-treated and considered as outcast. Joseph's father had the heart to welcome them inside his house and feed them. Many people who known Joseph by now feel that he has inherited the virtues of his father, as they say Yatha Raja tatha Praja.
At the right age, Joseph married Olivia and they have two children —Joslia and Jovial. While Joseph takes care of the rehab centre his wife Olivia Sheela, who is a teacher by profession, takes care of the garden and pet animals that in turn take care of the whole community within Snehalaya.
His family stays in a small house adjacent to the centre. His daughter Joslia is married and settled in Belthangadi whereas Jovial (indeed a jovial boy) studies law and assists his father in taking care of IT and Social Media activities.
Simple and smiling, handsome Brother Joseph is always found wearing a long-sleeved cotton kurta-trouser and walks bare-foot —simplicity is his virtue, he communicates with simple narration without exaggeration. He firmly believes that every humanitarian effort starts with the generosity of kind hearted people and person like him only works as a catalyst in taking their help and carrying forward the mission to the needy.
From a driver to a driving force
Brother Joseph started his career as a light driver/cleaner of small vehicles, later obtained license to drive heavy vehicles and became driver of a Mangalore — Bombay bus. Once he was injured in a serious traffic accident and was hospitalised for several weeks. There were no chances of his survival; he remained unconscious for a very long period. One day a miracle took place and Joseph opened his eyes to the great surprise of the medical fraternity. He came to know that he is admitted in a hospital. His recovery from that day was phenomenal.
According to him it was his second life. Perhaps this was for a different humanitarian cause in his life. Once back home, Joseph spent a few days taking total rest and then proceeded to Potta in Kerala for a 10 days spiritual Inner healing retreat. "It is here that I was anointed and commissioned for the job what I am doing today," he says and adds, "I understood the real meaning of my existence. 1 realised where I came from and where I should go. I found a destination for my journey on this earth." Soon he started running an auto rickshaw to keep fires burning at his home and to take care of his family but the fire to take care of the under-privileged was already lit in his heart.
The first 'spark'
We wondered how at a time when the anti-social elements are thriving so rapidly, a shining star can emerge in such a distant land called Manjeshwar. Especially a Samaritan who takes care of those who look weird and gravely dirty, in smelling clothes and body rotten with various ailments, those who cannot communicate, instead they agitate — how this person thinks of rehabilitating them?
We start by asking him, what is that one incident caught his imagination and provided him the much needed motivation?
Once he was at the Bunder fish market in Mangalore, he saw a woman in dirty clothes and in unstable mind, drinking the fish soaked water. It was noontime; time to fill one's stomach but that lady had nothing to quench her thirst or her hunger. Joseph was shocked, he ran screeching at her and pulled her hand from drinking fish water, rushed to a nearby restaurant and bought a full meal for her. The joy he saw on her face looking at the full meal changed his life. "Her face is still intact on the screen on my mind", - he says.
I am thirst, I am hungry, I am without clothes, I am without a roof on my head the words of Jesus Christ echoed in his mind. From then onwards there was no looking back.
In 2007 the rampant spread of chikungunya fever around the place disturbed his mind as he took initiative in transporting many patients for treatment to Wenlock Hospital in Mangalore city which was crowded with patients. He also took a few to Mother Theresa Home in Mangalore and Vishwasada Mane in Shankarapura, Udupi.
Soon he obtained a 21 cents land with a tile house as part of his share from his ancestral property at Tuminadu, near Talapady followed by an unforgettable incident in his life.
On the fifth day of his auto ride, he saw two boys in a most shameful condition and in unstable minds in a gutter, near State Bank Hampankatta. Neither they had the control over their emotions nor on their physique as both were injured and mentally retarded. They were almost naked, there was a deep cut on the forehead of a youth from which fuss filled blood and worms were sprouting out. The other had lost one leg. Joseph had no heart to leave them in that state.
It was August 26, 2009, the birthday of Mother Theresa; Joseph made them get into his auto with the help of onlookers and brought them to his home at Tuminadu. With the support of his family, he trimmed their hair, gave them bath, cleaned their wounds and offered them food after a short prayer.
This is how Snehalaya was born
Someone called Arun Saldanha offered him two thousand rupees to take care of these two boys. Arun was the first donor. The fishermen at the fish market provided fish free of cost twice a week; many kind hearted people came forward to support him. Both the Wenlock hospital and Yenepoya hospital offered free counselling service and medication. With their help within soon, Brother Joseph could rehabilitate 20 more destitute picked from the gutters of the city. Within soon, the Kerala Government provided the permission to run an 'old age home' which was a much needed munificence.
Within four years, the inmate's number swelled to 50 and they found the place insufficient.
The appeal to Kerala Government to recognise the place as 'Psycho Social rehabilitation centre' was fructified so also the government agreed to pay salaries to the staff appointed at the centre.
Without wasting much time, Brother Joseph commenced construction of new premises on August 2013 at the present venue Bachalike, on a barren land of 50 cents which got ready within a year, thanks to the kind hearted donors who responded to his appeal spontaneously. Within one more year yet another floor of 6000 square feet was added. The whole compound today consists of a large open yard, and the adjacent places consist of the men's wing, TV rooms, library, media office on the ground floor and other basic amenities.
By this time, a Germany based Episcopal Conference Institution came to the support of Brother Joseph Crasta. They provided a grant of Rs. 2.5 crore to build the present women's wing of three floors. With this facility, at the moment Snehalaya takes care of 54 women, 148 men both with physical and mental illness and 40 senior citizens at Shanti Dham. (The Shrine of Peace)
WhatsApp Charity Group
Brother Joseph says any person can become mentally ill — at any age, rich or poor, educated or illiterate, highly educated or even highly professionals, young or old, children or youth, there is no distinction but if such people are given love and the right treatment on time, they can jump back to life. Further he adds, there is no greater religion than love and compassion. (Refer the testimonies)
According to Brother Joseph, the usage of drugs and other depressant solutions are the worst enemies of the present world. Many youth become victims of this illness at an early age and end up with depression or untimely death. He has, to date nurtured and rehabilitated more than 700 destitute and handed them over to their loved ones, through the help of social media, various social organisations and government agencies and police personnel.
While we see around our generation misusing the social media for irrelevant causes, I suggest they take a lesson from Brother Joseph as to how social media can be used for the welfare of human kind, for the benefit of those poor and underprivileged, sick and needy. Best example is his 'Whatsapp Charity group.'
Snehalaya was the pioneer in providing mid-day meal to the patients at Wenlock Hospital in the city. During the lockdown as the government decided to convert the facility as District COVID Hospital, the Mannah program was suspended temporarily.
However, during the period Snehalaya provided 300 meals to the hungry daily labourers for a month at Uppala, Manimunda and Talapady Mariashram. They also supplied breakfast and meals to 150 people per day for 15 days when lockdown was relaxed.
Snehalaya has since resumed the above services, distributing free food (Mannah) plus medicines and clothes to the poor patients at Wenlock Hospital with the help of donors through his WhatsApp group. During the COVID lockdown period, a special facility for the people was provided free of cost as part of their mission. It was free ambulance service for the patients to move to the hospital and take them back home. Also the ambulances transported the dead bodies with their family members to the respective house or burial grounds/crematoriums.
Pandemic opened a new avenue of charity
COVID pandemic also opened a new avenue to carry on another challenging mission at Snehalaya. The volunteers identified a few houses in nearby areas in dismal condition. With the support of kind hearted persons 8 houses are inaugurated and handed over the beneficiaries. There is a huge number of applications flowing seeking help.
The centre also strives for educating the needy children, extends financial aid to the girls for their marriage, organises anti-drugs and anti-alcohol meetings regularly. While most of his mentally and physically ill patients are treated at Wenlock Hospital or Yenepoya Hospital the centre has in house counselling, so also medical and other specialists visit the place and take care of the inmates regularly.
Snehalaya has fruitfully engaged Self- Help groups in manufacturing bio-compost, detergents and soaps, surf, phenyl, in preparing paper bags, collecting honey and handling tailoring works. Inmates are encouraged to grow vegetables and fruits, rearing sheep, poultry under the supervision of the secretary of the Trust.
Inmates have easy access to daily newspapers, magazines, TV in a big hall that serves as a meeting place so also a place of entertainment. Also inmates are encouraged to pray according to their faith in prayer rooms provided to them. The national festivals are celebrated as a community so also sports, competitions are held daily to keep the inmates engaged and entertained.
While we were led by Brother Joseph on the second floor of Men's wing, we saw some of them sitting on the floor and passing on some kind of a small thing. Joseph explained that it's a kind of exercise for the mentally ill inmates to learn certain soft skills which help them to jump back to life. Even mentally stable women are encouraged to do craft work of their choice, which is sold to the fascinating buyers.
In the words of Mother Theresa, "It is not about how much you do, but how much love you do that counts."
Perhaps these words fully fructify the work being carried out at Snehalaya, the home of Love. Joseph and his team is serving the society relentlessly to create a better society, better people in the present chaotic society. Joseph is a messiah of the least brothers who has no voice.
Indeed, Joseph Crasta and his Snehalaya deserve all appreciation for their humanitarian work. They have rescued the less unfortunate from the streets time and again and given scores of people a new lease of life. May their good work continue, and may their tribe increase.
[Ravi Naikapu hails from Kumble, a small town in Kasaragod District. He is a multi-talented personality. A renowned journalist, social thinker, successful TV anchor, and effective writer. He has authored SNEHA GANGE on Snehalaya. He has written over a hundred articles on value-based social themes and is also an ardent supporter of Snehalaya]
ON THE SHORES OF SNEHALAYA
No one is born Noble. There are hundreds of stories, like when a wild thief turned into the Valmiki. Good deeds also do not happen overnight. There is sometimes a peculiar story behind the transformation. Even a rock is chiseled to shape into a statue. So does human development. Joseph Crasta is an ordinary man who has become an institution, a positive force, and a beacon to society. As I have been with him right from our childhood, few memories are noted here.
He hails from Seethangoli, just 2 miles away from my home, therefore I know Joseph and his mischiefs which are fresh memories in my mind. As far as I understand he did not have a happy childhood. Through the poverty, that one undergoes, one learns many lessons. And that may be the reason for his success. His dad was working at an arrack shop and taking care of his wife & three children was tough. Joseph slowly started helping his dad and assisted him in his work. There was a time when the Koraga community, considered outcasts, was not permitted to participate in any celebrations. They were kept aloof. The residual food is to be thrown at them. Joseph's dad used to invite this tribe to his house to share whatever was at home. They were part of any ceremonies at home. This quality might have got instilled into Joseph who has happiness to embrace the least of the society. Maybe the son has exalted the virtues of a worthy father who has helped him grow with blessings. About a decade ago, one of my friends informed me about a shelter home, on the border of Kerala Karnataka at Talapady, a centre for the mentally ill. When we stepped I recalled the
looks, long kurta and simple pants no foot wares, but glow on face, and smile and I was surprised when I heard that he was the founder of this home. I felt that I am next to a saint. After a walk through the centre, we sat down to hear him. On hearing his life story and transformation we became devoted to the man. The qualities in a man have made him grow to great heights. During my career, I visited Snehalaya frequently and interacted with inmates. It was an experience par excellence. Though they are mentally ill and rejected by society I have seen wonderful talents in them. The people of high profile, award winners, and addicts to bad elements getting recovered because of love and care is a divine work. As a social responsibility, I have written articles, and reports in many periodicals. 10 years of achievements are beyond imagination. The service is not restricted only to mental rehabilitation but the distribution of food, dress, medicines housing and many more. All deeds of love and compassion. If the vast activities are not documented, I thought my journalism is meaningless. Therefore a small service by publishing 'Snehagange" I feel contended.
Rehabilitation of the mentally destitute, Manna meals, housing for the poor and so on activities are flowing from Snehalaya, a worth praising & is truly awe-inspiring service. All this is possible only through the generous gift of the donors. Joseph humbles himself saying, I am a small instrument and that's his greatness. We have forgotten to live in a world of accumulating wealth throughout life. No one has ever become poor by helping others. What you give you earn, and what you accumulate goes to other as a share.
My regular visit to the Snehalaya has strengthened our Friendship and the cordial gestures from a journalist make me proud; writing good things and spreading their yeomen service is the only contribution I can offer.
[Born in 1983, at Bela, a village in Kasargod District, Stany D Souza, popularly known as Stany Bela, graduated from Kannur University and presently works as a Buero Chief, at Daijiworld Mangaluru, and a Cine-serial director. He is a journalist as well as a renowned writer known for his analytical articles, short stories, and poems in Konkani]
A REPLICA OF SERVICE AND COMMITMENT
Brother Joseph — a replica of service and commitment Brother Joseph & Myself originally from the same town. I know Bro. Joseph from a very young age and the ups and downs of his life. I have seen the pros and cons of his life very closely. Bro. Joseph is the supreme example of how a person is subject to all the temptations in his life, and how one can overcome those temptations when he is committed to morality.