Dominican sisters marked the 80th anniversary of their arival in the country yesterday by organising a free clinic for some 400 poor people living in Kediri, a village in Central Java.
Seven doctors and dozens of staff at St Elizabeth Hospital in Purwokerto, which is managed by the nuns, took part in the program.
The nuns have served people in parts of Indonesia in the areas of education and health care since their arrival in the country in 1931.
According to the program’s coordinator Sister Anna Maria, “most people coming to this program are the elderly, who suffer from coughs, colds, high blood pressure [and skin problems],” she said. “They suffer from itching because their environment is not healthy. This indicates that they are poor.”
Commenting on the program, a 74-year-old patient named Kaisem said: “It is free. I am happy to join it.”
She later acknowledged that she has a blood pressure problem. “I often had headache. Sometimes my blood pressure was high, sometimes it was low,” she said.
The village head Imam Kasid also welcomed the clinic. “When the nuns offered [it] I directly accepted it. This is part of the government’s efforts to improve people’s health,” he said.
He also hoped that the nuns will keep offering such programs to all people regardless of religious background and social status. “No matter how rich or poor the people are, the nuns should keep serving them,” he said.
In all, there are 102 Dominican sisters in Bandung, Larantuka and Purwokerto dioceses and Jakarta and Semarang archdioceses.
“We will deepen our prayer life, contemplation, reflection and sharing. We are trying to transform our service so as to make it in accordance with the life of St Dominic,” Sister Lusia Kusrini, head of the community, said.