Sister Nancy Pereira of Bangalore Awarded a Peace Prize

“Entrepreneur of the Poor”

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GENOA, Italy, OCT. 24, 2001 ( Sister Nancy Pereira of Bangalore, India, whom the Pope has described as an “entrepreneur of the poor,” has received the Mandir of Peace award for her work.

The 78-year old Salesian nun, a native of India, is now in Rome visiting her religious family. She received the award at the fourth East Meets West meeting in Assisi.

Some compare her to Mother Teresa of Calcutta. “I help people live with dignity; she helped them to die in peace with God, but the missionary drive is the same,” Sister Pereira said.

In 1994, this religious initiated the Fides plan for the education and integral development of poor families. Three years later, she established the Bank of the Poor, including a system of micro-credits, to help people lift themselves out of poverty.

Loans given to the poor enable them to buy work tools and start economic enterprises, thus lessening their recourse to alcohol or suicide.

The missionary nun´s center of activity is Bangalore, a metropolis of 3 million inhabitants, considered a leading center in electronic research. Yet, it´s a city where entire families cram into 10-square-meter rooms.

“The main plague is alcohol,” Sister Pereira told the Italian newspaper Avvenire. “We have initiated a campaign to combat it with some success. Above all, we use dissuasion, talking to the men and their wives. We also count on the help of a team of doctors and psychologists.”

The Salesian missionaries also work to combat ignorance and illiteracy. “We try to teach them at least how to read,” Sister Pereira said.

Most of the families helped by missionaries are Hindus. Sister Pereira emphasized that they share the same moral values. And without indulging in syncretism, the nuns pray every day with the people they assist.

The missionary nun expressed her concern over the recent violent events in the world.

“We must work with the children,” she said. “They must be educated in a common morality. Only in this way will a conscience be formed that will not allow for certain things to be repeated. We must educate like Don Bosco.”

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