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March 15, 2014

God’s Donkey Brisbane Launch

God’s Donkey

by Peter Gale

Gods Donkey Gale Cover

The true story of Sister Mary Theodore OAM and Mithra

 was launched in Brisbane by Jennifer Byrne

Jennifer Byrne, Peter Gale and Sister Theodore's niece, Helen Mahoney at the Brisbane launch.

Jennifer Byrne, Peter Gale and Sister Theodore’s niece, Helen Mahoney at the Brisbane launch.

The speech from Qld Parliament following the launch (reproduced here with authorisation from Peter Gale).

 

Sister Mary Theodore

Ms TRAD (South Brisbane-ALP) (9.07 pm): I rise to speak this evening in order to acknowledge a woman of great strengths, Sister Mary Theodore. Born on Brisbane’s south side, Sister Theodore was one of eight children in a Lebanese family. At just 17 years of age she had already chosen what path she would take in life and by the time she was 24, Sister Theodore completed her training with the church and was immediately posted to India. For over 60 years this was her home and it was where she founded Mithra, an organisation in the city of Chennai that is dedicated to educating and rehabilitating children with a disability, particularly those from the poorest sections of the community.

 

With all that she did, Sister Theodore had a funny way of describing her work. She would commonly refer to herself as ‘God’s donkey’. She would say, ‘That animal is me. That donkey knows how to serve. It was a donkey that carried Christ into Jerusalem. It is a simple creature but it knows when to resist and when to dig in its toes and be stubborn and fight.’

 

Dr Peter Gale at the University of South Australia has published a biographical account of Sister Theodore’s life and has appropriately titled it God’s Donkey. On 9 February I attended the book launch, which was presided over by Jennifer Byrne. By learning about why she chose that life-by understanding all that she did under such challenging circumstances-I am of the view that Sister Theodore’s story proved this simple point: just because you come from somewhere small like Brisbane does not mean you cannot achieve big things.

 

Sister Theodore strengthened Australia’s ties with some of India’s most vulnerable by creating an exchange program that brought Australian students to Mithra so they could help provide a helping hand. She strengthened these ties that bind us by proving to those children that we see them, that we care for them and that we have not forgotten about them when so many others have, and they loved her for that.

 

She was not Sister Theodore to them, she was ‘Mother’. It is people like her who give us heart. On 7 December 2012 she passed away after 86 years. ‘The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.’ Sister Theodore may no longer be with us, but we remember her in this book, in this world and in this place. She will forever be engrained in our past, and whether it is through the people that she helped and loved in Chennai, and particularly in Mithra, or those she inspired in South Brisbane, the work and vision of Sister Theodore will carry on into the future, and that is for certain.

 God’s Donkey was also launched on 15th January 2014 at 11.00am in the Divine Mercy Auditorium, Don Alberione Center, Mithra Campus.

God’s Donkey is published by Wakefield Press and available at http://www.wakefieldpress.com.au/product.php?productid=1150&cat=0&page=&featured=Y

I was fortunate enough to be at the Indian Association for the Study of Australia Conference in Kerala, India, where Peter Gale spoke about Sister Theodore and Mithra.

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I hear the book is selling well, so be sure to order your copy from Wakefield Press; or ask for it in your local bookshop.

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March 8, 2014

New Book Releases

The first is a picture book for children by my friend and colleague Meenakshi Bharat

The Little Elephant Throws a Party

Published by National Book Trust: New Delhi, 2014.

was released in February at the World Book Fair.

The Little Elephant Throws a Party is a based on a fable which is given a new twist and a surprise ending when a very happy little elephant receives the best birthday present he could wish for. The illustrations by Debabrata Ghosh are a delight, created with a whimsical touch, they cannot help but bring smiles and chuckles as they depict the antics and facial expressions of the animals. A gorgeous book and a must-read for bedtime stories.

Little Elephant Cover          Little Elephant Back Cover

See below for where to buy your copy of this very special beautifully illustrated picture book. Postage is free in India. For Australians, postage fee depends on the number of books ordered, so please inquire when placing your order:

Mayank Surolia, Assistant Director (NRO), National Book Trust,India

5 Institutional Area, Vasant kunj, New Delhi 110070. Tel: 011-26707873. Email: nro.nbt@nic.in

Another Must-Read!

God’s Donkey

by Peter Gale

 

The true story of Sister Mary Theodore OAM and Mithra.

Gods Donkey Gale Cover

Sister Mary Theodore established Mithra in 1977, in Chennai, India. Sister Theodore ‘commonly referred to herself as God’s donkey, doing God’s work in India’.

Mithra provides care and rehabilitation for disabled children “without distinction for religion, caste, creed, community, sex and financial or social status”.

Many of you would have seen Sister Mary Theodore (from Brisbane, Queensland) on Australian television speaking about her work with the children. She was interviewed by Jennifer Byrne who travelled to Mithra to do a 60 Minutes Report.

Peter Gale met Sister Mary Theodore in 2005. He made many more visits to Mithra witnessing how children were given back their lives and sense of dignity.

John McCarthy, Australian High Commissioner to India from 2004-2009, says that ‘Australians are in one sense the heirs of Sister Mary Theodore. The others are the children of Mithra’.

You will be moved and in awe of Sister Mary Theodore’s determination and dedication to these children.

Many people say that doing anything in India is a challenge. To take on the challenge of starting a home and rehabilitation centre for disabled children without land and funds was something that most people would say was not possible. For Sister Mary Theodore, an Australian citizen living in India it was an even greater challenge. Sister Theodore did not speak Tamil and had no experience of buying land, starting a business, working with Government, constructing buildings, or raising the funds to build them. However, while most concluded that it was an impossible dream, Sister Mary Theodore’s response was, ‘you just do it!’

Sister Theodore received an OAM in 1991 for her work with disabled children and the Asialink Weary Dunlop Medal in 2006 for services to Asia by an Australian.

Stories and images told ‘through many different eyes and ears’ form the narrative of this unique, uplifting and absorbing tale.

Published by Wakefield Press and available at http://www.wakefieldpress.com.au/product.php?productid=1150&cat=0&page=&featured=Y

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