When electrical engineer PA Saji was murdered by yet-to-be-identified assailants on the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway on Friday night,Sandra (46) lost her partner in an unusual journey of charity.
Sandra,an Italian national,had been attracted by the social service of Mother Teresas Missionaries of Charity in Italy. With a passion for voluntary work,she flew to India in 1998 to join missionary work in India.
At the time Sandra was employed with a private notary firm.
It was during one such visits to Mother Teresas Deepasram in Gurgaon,that Sandra met Saji in 2002. Saji had been then with the Mothers Congregation as a novice for priesthood.
From Peravoor in North Keralas Kannur district,Saji had joined the Congregation after obtaining an ITI diploma in electrical engineering. Even after quitting the order,where he studied for three years,Saji continued his voluntary work with the congregation.
Sandra is with Sajis family in Peravoor,where his funeral was held on Sunday.
We met in the Congregation as voluntary workers in 2002. We wanted to do something for people in need. Thus,we decided to move together, Sandra said.
Progetto India,the Shelter in Darbaripur,Haryana,was born in 2005.
Saji and Sandra began to live together in 2005 with a three-year-old girl. In 2007,they got married in Kerala.
Currently,the home has 19 children between the ages of 3 and 14 years 13 are girls.
We are parents for these orphaned children. Many of them were abandoned by sex workers,who cannot look after them. They come and meet their children,who are given English-medium education. We do not take any donation from abroad. The institute is run by contributions from well-wishers within the country, Sandra said.
I have to resettle my life and try to find out what happened to Saji. Italian Embassy has promised support. I am ready for a legal battle,if required,to find the truth behind his murder, she said.
I am worried about the future of the home,but Sajis death will not change the life of the children. They will continue to get the same safety and warmth,which they enjoyed until Friday, she said.
Sandra said the children have been told that Saji met with an accident. I will tell them that their papa is no more. I cant keep telling them that their papa will come one day. On Friday evening,his last call was about what he should bring the children, she said.
Sandra said they had cordial relations with local residents. Of course,there had been incidents of hardship. But,I do not want to single out any particular episode.
She will leave for Delhi on Tuesday.
in Peravoor,Sajis family finds it painful to tear away from the sons venture. Of course,we want to continue to associate with Sajis initiative. One of his sisters is planning to accompany Sandra to Delhi, his brother George said.