St. Xavier's Social Service Centre

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St. Xavier's Social Service Centre in Nakhipot, on the southern outskirts of Kathmandu, can accommodate 16 mentally and physically challenged men like Gurung, whom society has effectively discarded. Gurung uses a wheelchair to move around the grounds, unable to walk due to a spinal problem and leprosy. "Whatever has been happening in my life is God's will," the Hindu man told UCA News on Nov. 13. "This center has given me fresh hope of reuniting with my family," said Gurung, who comes from Rupandehi district, 300 kilometers west of Kathmandu. His wife is working in Saudi Arabia, and their three young daughters live with her parents back home. Gurung was working as a gatekeeper at a cinema hall when he was struck with yellow fever, which led to spinal problems. He then contracted leprosy while recuperating from the fever, he recounted. The Jesuit-run center also looks after 85 poor and disabled boys at a separate facility nearby and runs Freedom Center, a rehabilitation facility for alcoholics and drug abusers. These services began in 1976 on the initiative of Jesuit Father Thomas Gafney, an American missioner who was murdered in 1997 in an unsolved crime. Father Lawrence Maniyar, who heads the Jesuits in Nepal, told UCA News Dilip Kumar Toppo, a Jesuit seminarian, runs the facilities. Funds come from the Nepal Jesuit Society, occasional foreign donations and the small contributions some of the people using the services can afford. According to Lal Bahadur Thami, 23, the nighttime caretaker of the men's facility, some residents and former residents eke out a living selling cigarettes, tobacco and sweets on the streets. "The center helps by training them to make envelopes, candles and chalk," added Thami, who formerly lived at the Jesuit-run home for disabled and poor boys. Every Sunday, groups of students from St. Xavier's College in Kathmandu visit the men and organize recreational activities. Some take the men for short walks around the grounds, the caretaker...
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