Two Indian nuns of Mother Teresa vow to stay with Ukrainians
By Vatican News staff writer
Two Indian Missionaries of Charity (MC), nuns of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, have decided to stay in Ukraine to serve the people amidst the full-scale military invasion by Russia that began on 24 February.
Natives of Northeast India’s Mizoram state, Sisters Rosela Nuthangi and Ann Frida have expressed their decision to stay on in Ukraine, risking their lives to serve the injured and those fleeing the war.
The Superior General of the MC in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), Sister Prema, contacted the two nuns on March 2, asking them to move to a safer place by road. But the two preferred to remain where they are to help the people in whichever way possible. The sisters have informed their relatives of their safety in spite of the great danger.
Mizo Missionaries Charity
Mizoram derives its name from the Mizo native inhabitants of the region who speak the Mizo language as their main dialect. Mizoram’s estimated population of a little over a million is some 87 per cent Christian, comprising mainly of Protestants and several other Christian groups.
Sister Rosela Nuthangi is the second MC sister from among the Mizo people. She made her first religious profession in 1984 and was sent to the former Soviet Union (USSR) as a missionary. She worked in Moscow for 10 years.
Having mastered the Russian language, she also worked in Latvia and Estonia. She moved to Ukraine in 2017 where she is serving as a missionary.
Sister Ann Frida is from Aizawl, Mizoram’s capital. She made her first religious profession in 1998. After working in India for a few years, she was sent to Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine and is serving there for the last 10 years.
Models of missionary spirit
“I am proud of them,” said Archbishop John Moolachira, the President of the North East Regional Bishops’ Council (NERBC) expressing admiration for the two missionaries. “I am not surprised that two religious women Sisters of the missionaries of Charity who are working in war-ravaged Ukraine are not leaving the country in spite of the great danger to their lives and the interest of the Govt of India to evacuate all its citizens.”
Noting that the two nuns are but a small example of what the Church really stands for, he said, “Every consecrated person cares more for the lives and comfort of their fellow men and women than that of their own.” “They would consider it cowardice and unbecoming of their noble call to flee when the people under their care need their help, prayers and support the most.”
Father Robert Faustin, a Salesian priest from Mizoram, said that the anxious relatives of these two Mizo nuns are in constant touch with them for the past few days. “We hope for the safety of these two heroic nuns and let us also pray that peace and normalcy return in Ukraine, Russia and rest of the world”, Father Faustin said.
Discrimination against third-country nationals
According to BBC, some 76,000 foreign students studying in Ukraine, Indians alone number over 20,000. Others are from Africa, with the largest numbers coming from Nigeria, Morocco and Egypt. They are among thousands of Ukrainians and third-country nationals scrambling to flee the besieged country by crossing over to mainly Poland in the west from where to fly back home.
The United Nations has strongly denounced reported cases of discrimination and racism mostly faced by non-Europeans, as they try to flee and cross borders.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi reacted to the reports, saying, “At this critical juncture, there can be no discrimination against any person or any group,” Ukrainians and non-Ukrainians, Europeans and non-Europeans, all of whom are now forced to escape the violence.
The head of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) was also alarmed by verified credible reports of discrimination, violence and xenophobia against third-country nationals.
“Let me be clear, discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, nationality or migration status is unacceptable,” said IOM Director General, António Vitorino. He stressed that neighbouring countries must allow all people fleeing Ukraine to access their territory, while assistance and protection must be provided in a manner that is non-discriminatory and culturally appropriate.
Mizoram’s openness to Myanmar refugees
Meanwhile, Mizoram state, which is wedged between Myanmar on the east and south, and Bangladesh on the west, has been offering shelter to Myanmar refugees fleeing the military junta following its February 2, 2021 coup.
Mizoram's chief minister said on Tuesday that over 24,200 refugees from across the Myanmar border were being sheltered in the state. They are being provided with food, shelter and other assistance on humanitarian grounds by the state government, NGOs, churches, student bodies and village authorities. He said the state government is making efforts to ensure that the displaced don’t face problems. (Source: inputs from Miao Diocese)