About us

Mami from Jeevodaya

Helena Pyz was born in Warsaw, April 10 1948. She graduated from high school and studied medicine. At the age of 10, she was affected with polio. She had to stop her medical studies several times because of the disease and subsequent leg surgeries, however she has never made allowances for herself. In the pilgrim group to Częstochowa, group called ‘number 13’, she has made her own way to God and to the other. Fascinated with Jasna Góra, she understood that God invites her, following Mary, as a layperson, to devote her life to Jesus, fulfilling evangelical advices. Since 1971, she has been member of the Institute of Primate Wyszyński.

As a doctor, she was specializing in internal diseases. She was working in a local clinic in the Wola district, Warsaw (1974 -1983) and in the suburbs of Warsaw, in Ząbki (1884 - 1988). In the eighties, she was actively participating in organizing the Solidarity movement in the medical environment. She was president of the Wola hospital trade union committee until the ban of the Union.

At a name day party of her friend, she heard that there was a centre for lepers in India, where its Founder, father Adam Wiśniewski was seriously ill while being the only doctor supplying medical care to a dozen thousand people. She took this information as a call for herself. After two years of efforts, on February 14, 1989 she set up to her first long, full of imponderables trip to India. After coming to Jeevodaya – despite language barrier, lack of experience in curing leprosy and tropical diseases, despite financial and climatic difficulties – she knew from the very start that it is the place indicated by God for her to stay.

For the inhabitants of the Centre, dr Helena Pyz is a doctor, advisor, friend. She cures everything: starting from chafes on the knees got during children’s games, going through help obtained at deliveries and follow-up evaluations, up to many-months treatment of leprosy. In her clinic, she sees people affected with leprosy, those who need advice when they have a flu or any other disease, but also poor local people from the nearby villages, who cannot afford any other medical care. She also attends outbound clinics in Tumgaon (about 80 km from Jeevodaya) and Kutela (above 200 km).

As the Treasurer of the Center, she sees to it that work might be possible in the centre, and the children are never hungry. When she came for the first time to Jeevodaya, the financial situation was dramatic; she could not afford to pay for everything that was needed, especially there was no money for rice, which is the basis of meals in India. She stays in touch with Benefactors in Poland (since 1993 also through the Mission Secretariat in Warsaw) and all over the world. For the guests visiting the Centre, she is the host, for the volunteers - a teacher and tutor.

Dr Helena is voluntarily sharing her life with other inhabitants of the Centre for lepers. She evangelizes not only with words, but also in act, that is service and love to those who are rejected by others due to fear and prejudice. She speaks hindi, understands also other dialects and languages of neighbouring states. She dresses as a Hindu and despite her white skin, she is considered as a native inhabitant of this land. 

She takes a very good care of children; those who survived, despite danger after the death of their mother, have a special right towards her person and confidence. The word with which they address to her ‘Mami’ (mother) became her second name. Today, almost all call her ‘Mami’ in Jeevodaya.

Dr Helena Pyz is a laureate of many awards and distinctions. In 2005, she received, on the motion of the ambassador of Poland in India, the Order of Polonia Restituta. She has also received, among others, the Order ‘Ecce Homo’ granted to reknown workers for voluntary causes and a distinction “Zasłużonemu – Polskie Towarzystwo Lekarskie” [To a person of merit – the Polish Medical Association]. In the plebiscite of the monthly „Pani" [Madam] in 2001 she was considered as one among a thousand most popular Poles. For her, the most valuable distinction is „Order Uśmiechu" [The Order of Smile], that she obtained in 2008.

During her stays in Poland, she participates in meetings, programmes and grants interview concerning Jeevodaya and her work among lepers in India. In personal contact she is frank, friendly and modest (she does not like feasts organized in her honour). She has a great sense of humour. She is interested in life, people, Poland, she likes reading: literature, non-fiction, especially concerning sick people and the fate of Jews during and after II World War.

Anna Sułkowska