Angel of Healing
Raphael is in Dehradun in the northern state of Uttarakhand.
While visiting there in the mid-1950s, Leonard Cheshire stumbled upon a community of people with leprosy living on a riverbed. (The riverbed is free land. It is dry for most of the year but floods during the monsoon season.)
To help this community and others in the area needing relief from suffering, Cheshire and Sue Ryder built Raphael. It opened in April 1959 and was their first venture together.
Raphael’s mission is to provide relief in the fields of leprosy, physical and intellectual disability and tuberculosis. The centre’s services provide care and rehabilitation to those in need, irrespective of caste, creed or religion.
Raphael has a TB hospital and a ward for adults with chronic illnesses. It provides housing for people with leprosy. There is also a boarding hostel for children.
Raphael offers residential care and vocational services for people with physical and intellectual disabilities. There is a special education department that includes rehabilitative workshops teaching weaving, candle making and block-printing.
There are also mobile units that service local villages, including supporting families raising children with disabilities. Raphael promotes integrating children with disabilities into mainstream schools. This partnership continues to be a positive learning process for both the school and the child with the disability.
Raphael is funded by support groups in New Zealand and Australia. While it has paid staff, the centre also benefits from teachers, physiotherapists, medical professionals and others who want to make a difference as volunteers.
Ryder-Cheshire Foundation New Zealand is responsible for raising the $10,000 a year needed to provide daily milk to each resident at Raphael.