Agnes Kunze 1962

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The KKM Leprosy Colony first steps

Under and with Agnes Kunze, “Sisterji” the leprosy patients, with their Excellent Nepali Leader, Parman Singh, organized basic necessities, without having to beg for them: hard work to fetch water from the cremation grounds five hundred yards away; fetching their food rations with hand-cart 3-miles away, cooking on firewood to be gathered near by: all with limping ulcerated feet, sore eyes, and rejected by the public as before.

Meantime, Agnes herself saw to their treatment for leprosy and other diseases under Dr U.C. Chandna who accepted to come once a week and direct medications.                                                        

   The letters for help sent to Germany bore results, with a grant from the German Leprosy Relief Association, and, more important for the future,with the arrival of Klaus Becker, an  already all rounded seasoned volunteer.
 Technically a Master, with a solid education in Humanities and fast Language learner, he became naturally “Masterji”.

 United in effort with Agnes to find a productive and creative work for all kinds of disabililities, his experiments in Wax and Soap moulding met quickly with flaws, be it unsafe for anaesthetic hands, poor possibility in line-development and…marketing issue.
 With Textile work –on the model of Gandhian successful home-industry, Klaus Becker hit the bull's eye : work possibility for all kinds of disability; indian designs and low-cost techniques, requiring no other energy than good-will; raw material supplies at hand or nearby.
 In his Masterly way, he created several looms and ancillary machines out of his own hands, even tooling machines hand- or foot-powered, witness to his genius.
 However a shock was awaiting him: when the minimum spinning-weaving implements became ready for the Kripaon ki Mata Leprosy Colony members, (whose number had doubled, newcomers, ex-beggars- having had the Church permission to join the Colony) to use them, Agnes and Klaus met with total reluctance: “The Diocese has offered to look after us, not to make us work”!
 They had their point : Changing overnight from an exorted cash-economy to a new status of fully assisted, but minus their freedom of begging and its incidentals.
 Appeals to the Diocese confirmed that the patients were there to witness the glory of God through its Church, and as “work” : thanksgiving prayer was the only duty expected from them.
 Other volunteers would have given up. But not such tempered  spirits as Agnes’ or Klaus’!
 On their own, they started to admit fresh leprosy patients, from leprosy hospitals, or, better straight from their original villages, when begging was not a way of life, and who meant to work.
The Church not being happy to see its plans not implemented, Klaus Becker bought an acre of land nearby and made fresh patients make themselves their own bricks, dig foundations, make lime-mortar and build their eight rooms covered with asbestos sheets, while paying them a daily minimum wage (medical and clothing needs guaranted, provided they make they own clothing on KKM Colony’s looms.

 With this new avenue, and the arrival of young unprepossessing Salim, from a weaver family near Benares, spinning teacher at first, but turning out to be a master-weaver, who taught all of us after Klaus Becker’s departure and is to-day one of the First Founder Member of KKM Handweaving Society.

But over half an eventful decade had to be gone through before this land-mark could see the light and could be inked down.

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