Olavina Halli : The True Abode of Humanity and Love

Pics by Savitha B R

Feb 13, 2011

One of the deepest  and most cherished  needs of life is the need to be loved, cared and appreciated for what you are.  Kindness, appreciation and recognition of worth both in deeds and words makes a  crucial difference to the lives of the poor, the sick, the destitute and the needy.  In today’s  world where there is no dearth for  money or material wealth   but where humanity is approaching  crossroads, the nuns  of Olavina Halli (village of love) have filled the vacuum in the lives of hundreds of  burnout leprosy patients, destitute and  the marginalized sections of the society, by their unconditional and selfless service.   Needless to say it has been rightly named as “Olavina Halli – An Abode of Happiness, Peace and Love”.  The institute set up by an Italian nun late Sr Amelia Cimolino,  is working with the motto of ‘transforming the neglected, unwanted and marginalized  sections of the society by means of love, care and selfless service and helping them lead a life of dignity”. 

Olavina Halli is situated at about 18 kms from Mangalore city and just about 2 ½ Kms from N H 17 at Kinya Cross Road,  Talapady, in a vast expanse of 16 acres of  beautiful lush green surroundings.  On entering the premises one is greeted with a whip of a fresh  air and the smiling faces of  the nuns  (Sisters of Charity)  who serve the inmates of the institute.  If this is the first impression one gets, there is more in stores as one goes around the four different centers within the premises and the chapel and the home that houses the 11 nuns who are young and energetic in their approach  to life and work, if not age-wise.   The youngest nun working here is 56 years old and the oldest is 89 and the remaining 9 are above 60 and below 89. Another interesting aspect is that all these nuns are retired teachers.


Usually people need the help and support of others to take care of themselves at this age.  But these nuns find meaning to life and happiness in rendering a helping hand to the inmates to help them cope with the  challenges posed by life.

Sr Sylvesterine Lobo, Administrator of this institute says “Sr Amelia started this home with the main objective of rehabilitating the burnout leprosy and T B patients and also to reach out to the most needy, the destitute and the neglected sections of the society.  In our efforts we are guided by the ideals and vision of our founder who dedicated her entire life in the service of humanity”.  True to the motto,  the institute has been an abode  for the marginalized sections of the society to call it a ‘home’ of their own.  The home caters not only to their food, clothing, shelter and health needs but  also provides for the emotional security and comfort,  which has become a scarce  commodity in today’s world. 

From Italy with Love

Sr Amelia Cimolino, an Italian missionary came to India in 1972 at the age of 63, armed with a rich experience of working for more 37 years in Myanmar (formerly Burma) amidst leprosy patients.  After the military regime expelled her from Burma she went back to Italy to recuperate from the illness she encountered during her stay in the forest in Burma. Sisters of Charity have their presence worldwide and she had chosen Burma to render her services. On  her recovery Sr Amelia decided to come to India and  showed inclination to continue working for the rehabilitation of leprosy patients and thus “Olavina Halli” was born and started functioning from 1974.  Sr Amelia set up the institute through  donations and funds collected from her friends and benefactors from Italy.   She picked up the lepers who were found on the streets of Mangalore and help them build their tattered lives at Olavina Halli. 

The journey  of serving the helpless and the needy that began 36 years  ago continues unabated  even to this with the same enthusiasm and  ardor  that Olavina Halli is known for all these years.  Sr Irine D Souza, one of the members of the community working here says “we try to instill a spirit of living in dignity  by reconstructing true human relationships among those suffering from leprosy  and other diseases or those who are abandoned by their families”.  

At present there are four centres at Olavina Halli  namely Amelia Nivas, Shanti Sadan, Neeti Nivas and Prem Nilaya,  to house inmates  apart from the house of nuns and  the chapel.  Now a small shrine has been built for the patron “Infant Jesus”.  Amelia Nivas is named after the founder Amelia Cimolino, who passed away in 2006 at the age of 94.  It houses about 24 inmates  (ladies) who are mentally challenged.  It also has a centre for treating and caring for AIDS patients.  Some AIDS patients come here for treatment and return once they get well.  “Shanti Sadan” houses  about 20 to 25 senior ladies who are bed ridden and need constant care including providing food and maintaining cleanliness.  “Neeti Nivas” houses junior ladies (ladies who are above 70) that include destitute,  mentally challenged and T B patients.   “Prem Nilaya” houses nearly 35 to 40  inmates, majority of them  leprosy burnout patients.  Others include def and dumb, blind and physically challenged.

Humanity Aplenty

All the centers have patients belonging to different race, language and religion,  which goes to prove that ultimately it is the ‘human being’ that matters.  There is also Amelia Museum that has some of the treasured  belongings of late Sr Amelio, including the cot and bed she used.   “We get patients through social workers, some associations and through parish priests.  The house is full most of the time and we do not send back patients unless we are unable to accommodate them in any of the centers”, recounts Sr Sylvestorine.  Taking care of so many inmates is not an easy task as most of the inmates are  unable to take care of themselves.  There are four caretakers, one each in the four centers to take care of the patients, including washing clothes and maintaining hygiene. 

There are two cooks and one of them Andrew has renders 29 years of service at Olavina Halli. The inmates who are mobile help the helpers in cooking, as well as in maintaining the garden or in growing vegetables etc., apart from taking care of themselves. There is also one nursing aid  apart from a visiting doctor to attend to sick patients. “Convalescing leprosy patients need special care and time because  cleaning and dressing the wounds is a must  without which the wounds become unmanageable.  Such patients  cannot work outside in the garden as even a slight hurt  may result in bigger wounds”, says Sr Sylvestorine.  Everything from food, clothing, shelter, medicine are taken care free of cost at the institute.

Though most of the patients are bedridden, sick, wounded, deaf, blind or mentally challenged, it is gratifying to note that the place is crystal clean and well maintained.  The inmates too are neat, tidy and well groomed and their faces glow with inner peace and happiness.  When these nuns approach, touch and talk  and ask their well being they seem to be most happy and respond  with alacrity.  

The biggest challenge the institutions faces these days is the rising pharmacy bills of the patients. “When they are sick and need hospitalization they are taken to the Yenepoya Hospital at Derlakatte where they are treated free of cost. But  it is the pharmacy bills which form a  large part of the medical expenses of the inmates”, Sr Irine says.  However, it has not deterred the nuns from providing good medical care for the inmates when the situation calls for. 

Efforts to Self Sustain

In an effort to self sustain plantation work has been undertaken by planting rubber trees and by growing coconut, pepper, banana and some vegetables also.  They are also rearing cows and the milk is used for domestic purpose.  There is another plot of about 16 acres, a bit farther from Kinya cross road, where rubber plantation is done.  On an average 20 people work in the cultivation in both the plots  as well in taking care of the cows.  Most of the workers are from the rehabilitated families, children of the inmates,  who have been given a helping hand by the nuns to rebuild their tattered lives, by providing a house  in and around Olavina Halli.  The sisters also run a nursery school to cater to the children of the locality, most  of whom belong to the rehabilitated families settled  nearby.

The sisters have provided them with land and built houses in the close vicinity.  Gobar gas  is used for cooking and heating purposes..  

Most of the patients are poor and their families are not able to take care of them.  Among the inmates there  are a few whose  children have  mercilessly thrown  their parents on the streets.  Some relatives of destitute  refuse to come and  visit the patients, leave alone helping monetary wise.  Taking care of food, clothing, shelter and health is the biggest challenge faced by the nuns these days.  Till Sr Amelio was there her family, relatives  friends and acquaintances use to send aid to Olavina Halli.  But with her death in 2006 and with the death of one of the benefactors from Italy in 2010, aid from  Italy has completely stopped.  

Olavina Halli is in need of financial assistance to continue the selfless service they have been carrying out for the last 36 years.  The institute lacks some important  facilities like a multipurpose stage, plastic chairs to enable inmates to be seated outdoors, makeshift roof (instead of shamiana) , a mobile computer and other minor requirements. 

Help in cash or kind is accepted in the form  sponsorship for a meal a month, snacks,/tea/coffee or sharing the joy with the inmates with cash or kind to mark wedding, birthday, holy mass, jubilee/ anniversary  celebrations or any other kind of happy occasions.  

N B:  Indian donors are entitled for income tax exemption on the amount given to the institution under section 80 G of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

The Administrator,
Olavina Halli
Rehabilitation and Community Development Centre
Kinya Post,
Mangalore – 575 023
Tel: 0824-2280506

by Florine Roche
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Comment on this article

  • mabel andrade, udupi/kuwait

    Thu, Jul 05 2012

    hi, good morning
    pls send me your bank details with account number
    rgds mabel andrade/kuwait

  • nelson, mangalore/kuwait

    Wed, Feb 16 2011

    Every smile on the face of these inmates will not go unaccounted for.

  • Vicky Chopra, Ranganpalke/Kawdoor

    Mon, Feb 14 2011

    Mr.Alwyn, Alwyn - USA..Herein we didn't seen anybody needy..looks like these people are from good familes but deserted by childrens who are settled down abroad for one or another reason.

    Elderly people needs affection of there own family members during there ripe age and not from other people like of nuns...No doubt what sister's are doing is great.. Jai Ho..

  • Alice, Kirem/New Delhi

    Mon, Feb 14 2011

    Dear Sr. Irene & all other sisters, you are great. I pray for you all and for your mission.

  • Bulsam, Mangalore

    Mon, Feb 14 2011

    I solute them.
    Happy Valentine's Day to all.

  • Vicky Chopra, Kawdoor/Karkala

    Mon, Feb 14 2011

    what nuns/sisters are doing good job. if everybody cares there parents where is the question of 'old age'..here most of elderly respected people seems from well to do families.. one mother can looks after ten childrens...but ten childrens cannot able to look after 'one good mother'during her oldage.. Jai Ho..

  • Louis D'Souza, Udupi/Kuwait

    Mon, Feb 14 2011

    God bless all the nuns. Really it is Olavina Hally, a place full of love n compassion. Theirs is the kingdom of God. My dad's sister was there many yrs before, Late Sr. Bridget D'Souza.

  • Wilfred Rasquinha, Canada

    Sun, Feb 13 2011

    This article has truly touched my heart. It is the through the Holy Spirit that such amazing things are happening despite all the darkness in the world. My prayer and best wishes are with all those involved in doing this tremendous work. God Bless all of you.

  • krishna rao, Mangalore/Mysore

    Sun, Feb 13 2011

    It brings back the images of we working with sister Amelia during collage days.good work need to be continued. wish we certainly put our part of helping hand. Thanks to Sunny Tharappan, we had a chance to be around there in olavina halli.May god bless all at lovely halli.

  • Noel Frank, India

    Sun, Feb 13 2011

    My only wish, let NO ONE be destined to be inmates, however much care and love, they are given there.

  • Lidwin Suares, Mangalore - Kuwait

    Sun, Feb 13 2011

    I had an opportunity to visit Olavinahalli 2 years ago. I must admit that the Nuns there (despite their old age) are doing a great job by taking such good care of all inmates, men n women alike ! God Bless all who are part of this wonderful team !

  • Julie, Mundkur / Doha

    Sun, Feb 13 2011

    Very nice article. Thank you sisters for taking care of these needy people. May God bless you all abundantly & always keep you good health.

  • Alwyn, Alwyn - USA

    Sat, Feb 12 2011

    Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something.

    There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread, but there are many more dying for a little love.

    The work an unknown good man has done is like a vein of water flowing hidden underground, secretly making the ground green.

    Sacrificing the love for the needy, obeying God commandment every second of life, helping the suffering people with love, and finding joy by doing all the good work is not a simple thing.
    Almighty God is present in their heart and Holy Spirit who always taking care of them. Whenever it is possible we all must help, pray, and bless them.

  • John Pinto, Chickmagalur/ Doha

    Sat, Feb 12 2011

    Your love of Christ, is highlighted by showing your love and affection towards our needy people. God bless these nuns and priests , who do this beautiful service to Humanity.

  • cliferd Rodricks, Valencia, Dubai Mangalore

    Sat, Feb 12 2011

    I knew Sr. Irene from my childhood days at Infanat Marys & St. Josephs Scool Jeppu, the love & care we received from her, i still remmember. really wonderful personality, may God Bless her aboundantly with good health & happiness, we love you Sr. Irene

    Cliferd Rodricks

  • Gabriel Vaz, Bangalore

    Sat, Feb 12 2011

    Nice & well-written article. I had visited Olavina Halli when it was started & many times later. Prof Sunny Tharappan, who was teaching in St Aloysius College, Mangalore, was one of the key persons behind the venture in its initial stages. I was working in Indian Express/Kannada Prabha at the time & have written feature articles in both dailies. I remember it was difficult to get publicity for such activities. Prof Tharappan used to brief me regularly on any new developments. I have not met him since. I did not have occasion to visit Olavina Halli after I left Mangalore. The article rekindled old memories. Thank you, Florine. Keep up the good work.

  • Charles Pais, Mangalore/DXB

    Sat, Feb 12 2011

    Ms.Roche thaks for the nice and meaningful article on Olavinahalli. Nice to see the pictures. I was part of Olavinhalli during my college days of 5 years at St. Aloysius. It was bear dry land then when Late Rev. Sr. Amelia has just started her mission along with other 3 Sisters. we used to participate in the NSS camps, adult education programmes and Economic Forum Surveys at various times organised by Olavinahalli. Prof. Sunny Tarappan was the man behind for all these Programmes!!

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