Friends of Anandwan
Baba says of Vinoba Bhave, the great disciple of Mahatma Gandhi, “on his shoulders I stood to get a glimpse of the new horizons that beckoned me.”
H. H. Dalai Lama
Dr. M. S. Swaminathan
Count Arthur Tarnowski
Doctors from UK
R. R. Patil with Sheetal Amte
J. R. D. Tata
P. L. Deshpande and Sunita Deshpande
His Holiness, the Dalai Lama met and blessed most of the ailing leprosy patients in Anandwan during his three day visit in January 1990.
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi visited Anandwan in April 1982.
J.R.D. Tata had a meeting with Baba Amte and Sadhana Tai in Mumbai at Dr. Bavadekar’s Nursing Home, when Baba was on a Peace by Peace mission and touring Mumbai’s riots affected areas in 1993. J.R.D. Tata was a life time friend of Baba Amte with a deep and abiding commitment to Baba’s life mission.
Annasaheb Sahasrabuddhe, his lifelong associate, renowned Gandhian, who was for many years, Secretary of the Sewagram Trust at Wardha and in 1960 Chairman, Standing Committee of Rural Industries of the Planning Commission, Government of India.
The legendary P.L. Deshpande, grand old man of Marathi theatre, was a close and committed friend of Baba Amte, visiting Anandwan often, taking part in its activities and spreading its message to the rest of the world.
Yadunath Thatte, social reformer, editor of Marathi weekly Sadhana and founder of National Amity Foundation (Antar Bharati).Yadunathji was a true believer of Baba’s vision and had been associated with him for over 40 years.
Winner of one of India’s highest literary honour, the Gyanpeeth Award, V.V. Shirwadkar alias Kusumagraj is popularly known as the Shakespeare of Maharashtra. He was the first person to describe Baba Amte as a Maha Manav (a great human being) and helped open up the minds of people to the work being done at Anandwan.
Service Civil International (SCI), a post-World War I peace group founded in 1920, believes in “Deeds, Not Words”. The support of SCI proved to be a turning point in the history of Anandwan. In 1953, people from different walks of life belonging to 20 nations visited Anandwan as part of an SCI team. They built the first 3 pukka houses in Anandwan. Alfred Knaus, a German and a member of this team, became the first European to step on Anandwan soil. Since 1953, SCI has periodically held camps for voluntary labour at Anandwan. In 1990, SCI organised celebrations to mark 70 years of its existence in two places in the world, one of which was Anandwan.
Count Arthur Tarnowski, founder of the Take Heart Foundation, UK, has been a close friend of Baba Amte for the last 37 years. Despite the fact that both his legs are polio-affected, the Count embarked upon an expedition around the world, based on which he published a book entitled “The Unbeaten Track”. Two chapters of the book were devoted to Anandwan and the work of Baba Amte. All proceeds from the sale of his book were donated by the Count to Anandwan to start House of Opportunities (Sandhi Niketan). Tarnowski has visited Anandwan 38 times in the past 36 years and remains one of the pillars of support for the institution.
Swiss Aid has been the single largest donor to the Maharogi Sewa Samiti. In 1960, the Swiss ambassodor to India, Dr. J. Cuttat, visited Anandwan at the behest of M.K. Vellody, Indian ambassador to Switzerland. The Ambassador’s visit to Anandwan drew a lot of media attention in Switzerland, which in turn created strong support for the work of Baba Amte. The people of Switzerland joined what Baba calls the “Fellowship of Pain” and donated generously to the people of Anandwan. For 24 years, between 1960 and 1984, this partnership helped build several of the communes, hospitals, schools and colleges at Anandwan.
Pierre Oppliger, former Liaison Officer for Swiss Aid Abroad in India, Service Civil International and Oxfam Australia, has been a friend of Anandwan since 1953. The photograph shows him with Dr.Schnellman, then Secretary General of Swiss Aid Abroad, at the annual Anandwan Fair.
After reading a book on Baba Amte’s life (The Last, The First, written by Jean Buhler), Loti Raman, a Swiss lady who married an Indian, decided to bequeath all her property and assets to Baba Amte. These funds were used to build the Loti-Raman Home for Senior Citizens at Anandwan.
The renowned British economist, Baroness Jackson of Lodsworth, Barbara Ward (first recipient of the Nehru Award instituted by the Government of India in 1981) was so deeply moved by the work done at Anandwan that she donated her entire award money to the Maharogi Sewa Samiti.
The most recorded singer in the history of music, Queen of Melody Lata Mangeshkar and her compatriot, Kishore Kumar, raised Rs.3.40 million at a famous concert in Mumbai in 1984
Mother Gavrilia, member of the Orthodox Church of Greece, was born as Avrilia Papayanni in Constantinople. A disciple of Swami Sivananda of Hrishikesh, she worked in Anandwan for several years, dressing the wounds of leprosy patients. Affectionately known as Sister Leela by the Anandwan family, she was among the first foreigners to work at Anandwan.
Willie Randin, the Chairman of Nouvelle Planéte, who had earlier worked in Albert Schweitzer’s Lambariné Hospital in South Africa, came to know about Anandwan through Greet and Guy Barthelemy. Since 1993, Nouvelle Planéte has organised several trips of European students to Anandwan. These students spend 3 weeks of their summer holidays in Anandwan, working on various projects. They also help raise funds for Anandwan through students. These are students who have finished school and about to enter University, they organize bazaars, walkathon and many such initiatives to raise funds, it helps them learn that there is a world beyond you that exists which needs you. Nouvelle Planéte has helped in the rebuilding and upgradation of the community development project at Somnath, the farming improvement project, greenhouses, irrigation facilities, community biogas plants, youth villages, pasture development and the plastic re-use project.
In a unique children to children support programme, Kinder Postalzes (Netherlands Commitee of Children) has organised children to raise funds through walks, sales of stamps and other events for Anandwan’s mentally and physically challenged children. Over the last 15 years, this help has been invaluable in building residential facilities for the children at Anandwan.
Marianne Luschberger, Baba Amte’s adopted German daughter has been a friend of Anandwan since 1973, when she came here as a mid-term volunteer. So deep is her love for Anandwan that she chose to get married here.
Mr. Vinay Hegde has been a long time supporter of Anandwan and Ramesh Kacholia, who has been a very dedicated campaigner to raise goodwill and funds for the Maharogi Sewa Samiti in the last 20 years. It is his single-minded doggedness that can be said to have resulted in the production of the commemoration volume.
Maharashtra’s deputy chief minister R.R.Patil has also been deeply involved in the upliftment and rehabilitation of the downtrodden in Anandwan. He has been an ambassador of Anandwan in Maharashtra government.
Some more friends of Anandwan:
- A.D. Godse
- A.R. Sheth, Mumbai
- A.V. Rajware, Financial Consultant
- B.G. Bapal
- Barthelemy Guy and Greet
- C.B. Naik, Mumbai
- Dr. Alber Schweitzer Fund, UK
- Dr. D.B. Shirole, Pune
- Dr. Manjiri Paranjape and family, Pune
- Dr. N. Nobel of Stitching Geron, the Netherlands
- Dr. Vasantrao Deshpande
- Dwadashiwar, Suresh
- Fr. Hans Staffner
- Gupta, Ramesh
- Hans Kohler of the Union Bank of Switzerland
- K.R. Datye
- M. Thompson, Chief of Asia Division of Oxfam
- M.S. Swaminathan
- Madhubhai and Nalinitai Pandit
- Mehrotra, Rajiv
- Mewani, L.R.
- Mikko Pyhala, formerly with UNEP, now Ambassador of Finland to Peru
- Milind Sarnobat, Mumbai
- Mr. Dilip Herlekar and family, Mumbai
- Mr. S.M. Shirodker, Pune
- Mrs. Sudha Lodha and family, Pune
- N. Vinay Hegde, Mangalore, India
- Nagesh Hatkar
- Nana Patekar
- Nouvelle Planete, Switzerland
- Prakash Sheth, Mumbai
- Pt. Bhimsen Joshi
- Pt. Kumar Gandharva
- Rahul Barpute, journalist, Indore
- Sarlaben Birla
- Shevalkar, Ram (Prof.)
- Shri Raosahib Shinde, Shrirampur, Maharashtra and his associates
- Z. Prabhakar
- ActionAid, UK and India
- Canadian Catholic Organisation for Development and Peace
- Canadian International Development Agency
- Castricum Helpt Muttahara, the Netherlands
- Catholic Medical Mission Board
- Catholic Relief Services
- Christian Aid
- Damien Dutton Leprosy Foundation, USA
- David Scott of Community Aid Abroad (Oxfam Australia)
- Department of Bio-technology, Government of India
- Diwaliben Mohanlal Mehta Trust
- Epidem, Finland
- Foundation for Universal Responsibility
- German Agro Action
- Grindlays Bank, Mumbai
- Help the Aged
- Helpage India
- Hero Cycles Ltd., Ludhiana, India
- Ikka Vehekalatti of Finland’s APIDEM group
- K.K. Traders, Gondhia, Maharashtra
- K.S. Hegde Foundation, Mangalore
- Larsen and Toubro, India
- Maharashtra Sewa Samiti, Canada
- Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd., India
- Manohar Tarkunde, Khare and Tarkunde Company, Mumbai
- Oxfam, UK and India
- P.L. Deshpande Foundation, India
- People for Progress in India
- Principality of Red Cross of Monaco
- Ramon Magasasay Award Foundation, Manila
- Right Livelihood Award Foundation, Sweden
- Rockefeller Brothers Fund, USA
- Rotary Club of Laussen, Switzerland
- Service Civil International
- Shamdasani Foundation, India and Hong Kong
- Shri Bhaukaka Agashe and Anandwan Mitra Mandal, Shrirampur, Maharashtra
- SOSVA, India
- State Bank of India, H.O. Mumbai
- War on Want, Ireland
- Western Coalfields Ltd.
- WoldeGanzen (Netherlands)
- World Rehabilitation Fund, USA