M.A. Wohab – a muslim lawyer, Sabitri Pal – a hindu teacher and Br. Gaston – a catholic from Switzerland. Three people from diverse backgrounds who imbued SHIS with the principles of tolerance, love and dedicated service to the poor.

M.A. Wohab – Director

Mohammed Abdul Wohab hails from the small village Padmapukur, Bhangar of West Bengal, India. As he grew up, he experienced with awe that there was not a single day when cries of helpless anguish were not heard.

His mind was tormented. His heart tore apart. He saw beloved children nipped in bud, children rendered orphans and death of single-earning member devastating families. As years rolled by, the child mused and drifted into long dream. A crusader started to emerge.

He started the fight against Tuberculosis along with Sabitri Pal, another social worker and friend. Both Wohab and Sabitri started their campaign and the treatment centre for TB from a hut at Bhangar where they were encouraged and aided by Brother Gaston.

Many a time the patients died before reaching hospitals. These incidents upset them. They vowed that no patient of the area would die without treatment and this mental strength is today what SHIS is.

Wohab through his relentless service, determination and patience has overcome all odds and runs Southern Health Improvement Samity (SHIS) where the organization has spread its activities in multiple directions.

Mr. Wohab had moved through painful and difficult ways to convince people about his goal he dreamed to achieve. This Herculean task would not have been possible, had Wohab not put service to mankind before self. He has been awarded many prestigious awards for his contribution to the mankind.

Courtesy of shisindia.org

Sabitri Pal – President

Sabitri Pal, the lady known as “Mother Monk”, was born on 10th of January, 1949 in the remote village of Kalikapur, Bhangar in West Bengal, India. From a very early age she had decided to dedicate her life to serving the poor.

She came in contact of Mohammed Abdul Wohab in 1979 when both of them decided to dedicate themselves to serve the have-nots living in the remote areas of Sunderbans. There people did not have the slightest idea of basic education, sanitation and health care. Sabritri along with Wohab formed Southern Health Improvement Samity (SHIS) in 1980 under the guidance of Brother Gaston Dayananda.

Today she is the President of the organization. She looks after the projects and directly supervises the activities of SHIS and impart various vocational and practical training to the adult mothers and girl children. Her relentless service before self has motivated and inspired many women in the area.

She leads a large team who take care of Multi Projects Centres of SHIS. Sabitri led the project “Girl Children” which encouraged women and girls who were oppressed to do something for their own livelihood and also for the service and of others. Her undaunted gesture motivated the women of the area to come forward and to get educated about basic health, hygiene and sanitation. For her dedication, devotion and sacrifice she is regarded as Goddess and called “Mother” by the people of the region.

Courtesy of shisindia.org

Brother Gaston – Spiritual Leader

Brother Gaston Dayanand came to India in early seventies from Switzerland. He was a male nurse by profession. He felt an urge to dedicate himself for the uplift of the underprivileged.

He decided to come to India. Brother Gaston started social work in Pilkhana, Howrah, where poorest of the poor live. Brother is the main character (Father Kovalasky) of Mr. Dominique Lapierre’s book City of Joy. Brother is the moving spirit behind formation of SHIS.

He inspired Mr. M. A. Wohab – then the young secretary of Amaragori Gram Panchayat (village self-governance), in Howrah District of West Bengal – to go back to his village, Bhangar and start social development programme among the underprivileged.

Mr. Wohab was so overwhelmed and inspired that he along with Ms. Sabitri Pal, another local social worker, started a clinic on 30th October 1980 from a roofless tea stall at Bhangar. Brother Gaston often visits SHIS to guide SHIS activities.

Courtesy of shisindia.org