Sister Lucy Kurien, Leading Humanitarian Activist, to Speak at UVM
- By Jeffrey R. Wakefield
Sister Lucy Kurien, founder of Maher Ashram in Pune, India will speak on Monday, Oct. 14 at 1 p.m. in room 102 of the Aiken Center on the University of Vermont campus.
Sister Kurien founded Maher in 1997 with the construction of a safe house in response to the dire oppression women were facing. The first women were sheltered before the home's construction was complete. Today, Maher has grown into a social-service organization helping thousands of people. Its primary focus is still sheltering and caring for women and children in crisis. It has 27 homes housing 760 children, a home for women with mental disabilities with 80 residents, a home for elderly women with 40 residents and a newly opened home for men who can’t care for themselves with seven residents.
Maher also conducts grassroots projects in villages and slums, focusing on education, microloan co-ops and environmental sustainability.
Fighting for women's rights and for an end to the acceptance of violence against women has been on the forefront of Maher's agenda since the beginning. Sister Kurien is a Catholic nun but Maher is steadfastly interfaith. It's also caste-free; all religions are honored and all people are equal.
Despite Maher’s growth and success in India and the international reputation it is gaining, Sister Kurien remains an active director, overseeing every project.
“She has a lot to teach the world about eradicating poverty using sustainable, grassroots techniques,” said Gary Widrick, chair of the University of Vermont Department of Social Work, which is co-sponsoring the event. Traveling with her is Gaus Sayyad, a graduate student of International Business who has lived at Maher since age seven.
Other co-sponsors of Sister Kurien’s lecture and visit are the Howley Foundation and the Satyana Institute.