"Best Mother of Mongolia"

In 1993, Gabrielle took time out from a nursing career in Australia and went to work in one of Mother Theresa's children's homes in Calcutta. After that she decided to become a yogic nun in the Ananda Marga order. She is now also known by the name of Didi Ananda Kalika. Didi's's first assignment was to work in Mongolia.
Didi has built up the Lotus Children's Centre making tremendous personal sacrifice. She has become the mother to nearly seventy children.

The Lotus Children's Center now cares for sixty-seven children ranging in age from 2 months to 21 years. The Center began in Didi's apartment in 1993 as a drop-in center for street children. By 1995 it expanded into four family homes in Yarmag district, a poor Ulaanbaatar suburb. And in 1998 Didi built a center for babies and infants withthe help of the Australian government. The Center's children live in small groups in an atmosphere as close as possible to normal family life. They shareresponsibilities, such as helping with the daily chores, and looking after children younger than themselves. In fact, in our homes, the children find a mutual support structure that they have never experienced before.
The Centre also runs a kindergarten school for thirty-four of her children and a soup kitchen that provides a hot meal five days a week for 50 of the poorest people in the neighbourhood. This service provides enough stability for some children to remain at home with their families.

Every Wednesday a special group of fifteen mothers come to the kitchen from a twenty-mile radius. They have no fixed source of income and live on the edge of survival with their children. Didi has started an income-generating program for them.Every week they sew calico bags for a gold mining company (used for collecting soil samples) on sewing machines provided by the company. For the first 40 bags they get a week's supply of food and for every additional bag they get a cash payment. One mother has been able to buy a new ger (Mongolian tent) in this way.
She also started a shelter for 9 girls at risk of prostitution and a women's shelter for single mothers. She had dug a well and had running water first time in 2001. The Centre has a bath house and laundry and solar panels for heating..

On June 1st, 2001, Didi was awarded the title "Best Mother of Mongolia" with twelve other women in a nationwide search for remarkable women. In August, 2001 Didi was selected for the Paul Harris Fellow award by the Rotary Club of Canberra Sunrise. Didi also volunteers as Assessor of Projects for the International Women's Organization of Mongolia.


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