By Andrea Rangnekar
A walk into the dark streets of Bandra in the 1980s…..
Amongst the bright lights and Glitterati of the Queen of Suburbs also lurked the dark shadowy bylanes of Bandra… where the onset of darkness brought out the Hyde in man.
Bylanes of Bazaar road, Chapel road and Bandra villages sold home-made liquor cheap. They were affordable not only to the lower middle class but also the upper middle class children. Children could afford this out of the pocket money their hardworking parents gave them for healthy snacks.
Alcoholism was at its peak and gambling and prostitution was hush hush but available. Drugs began their creep into society, targeting the youth around colleges. The ‘charsi’ was born.
Bandra needed a savior, God heard their prayers.
A fantastic orator and intelligent person who loved, cared and spoke with depth and sternness. A young Fr Joe Periera joined Mt Carmel Church Bandra and grew to be a Parish Preist. He saw and understood the need of the Society and began his relentless work of creating awareness to alcohol, charas, ganja, HIV. He worked selflessly to bring children and adults to lead healthy lives, eradicate alcoholism, HIV and drug abuse.
He founded the Kripa Foundation in 1981 in the annex of the Church of Mt. Carmel’s . An Iyengar Yogi Catholic Priest, yes you have read right. He combines the scientific aspect and spirituality of yoga in his Yoga classes for fitness and for rehabilitation of alcoholics. He works to cure not only body but also the mind and soul.
This visionary slowly but surely not only served Bandra but spread his good work to entire India and the world. It’s been about 35years now that the dashing priest runs Kripa Foundation to rehabilitate addicts all over the world, countries including Germany, USA and Canada.
This charismatic priest owes his inspiration and personal attributes, his empathy for the socially challenged, his vision to serve the needy addicts of the world to Blessed Mother Teresa and Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar and his spiritual guide Rev Anthony D’Mello
Fr Joe Periera, is the true hero of Bandra. His works have been recognized and awarded.
These perceptions and applications have resulted in various awards in the field of Drug Abuse Care, Health Sciences and Social Services like Priyadarshini National Award (1989), Perestroika Sanjeevani Award (1990), Anti Narcotic Council of India Award for best Establishment in the field (1994), Sahayogi Foundation Award (1995), Ati Vashisht Sewa Medal of the College of Chest Physicians (1997), International Yoga Journal Karamyogi of the Year Award (2003), Expert to the National Institute of Social Defence (Government of India) (2005) and Christian Chamber of Commerce Award for Excellence in the field of Social Work (2007). Awarded the PADMA SHRI in the field of Social Work by the Government of India (2009). Catholic Priest Conference of India (CPCI) National Excellence Award to Priest (2011). Lifetime Achievemnt National Award (2014) by an Outstanding Individual -Professional at the Hands of Hon’ble President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee.
He believes and lives the Iyengar saying “Holiness is Wholeness”