Neelam Hembron

  • Neelam Hembron
  • Group photo

I spent most of my life in the village of Raitoli which belongs to the parish of Torpa in Jharkhand.  I am the eldest in my family and I have two younger brothers and a sister.

I was born in the spring, when new leaves and flowers begin to emerge on the ‘Sal’ trees, and the whole community celebrates the local festival of ‘Sarhul’, welcoming new life and the New Year.  I was told later that, because of my birth, the planned festival had to be postponed for a few days until the umbilical cord had dried and the ritual of purification was completed.

Being the first child, I was pampered a lot because I had my parents, grandmother and aunt (father’s unmarried sister) to look after me.  Another aunt offered to take me to her home in Dumka (almost 400 km away) for my studies.  So when I was five years old, I was sent to school at her place.  By this time my little brother was born.  My aunt’s house became my second home; my aunt and uncle played an important role in my life.  I have three cousins who were away from home at that time, so I was treated as their fourth child.  They loved me so dearly that I did not miss my parents much. I was with them until I completed Standard 10.

Over the weekends and holidays, my aunt regularly visited Mother Teresa’s convent to help the sisters there and she used to take me with her.  I loved playing with the little children and chatting with those who lived there. Sometimes I used to go to the chapel, where some sisters would be praying with their eyes closed. I could not understand why they closed their eyes when they prayed but I liked it and when I was playing at home, I too used to close my eyes.

As I was growing up, my thoughts and interest were also developing and I wanted to fulfil my desires like I saw others doing. So, after completing Standard 10, I came back to Raitoli and started college. During this time I was moving ahead, thinking about and planning for the future, but I had no clear picture of anything. I tried to distract myself from this thought by joining my friends in fun and outings together. But in quiet moments when I paused and reflected, I felt empty within.

In the rainy season, I used to take the cattle to graze on the hillside.  In the afternoons, I would rest on a flat rock, enjoying the beauty of nature around me. As I lay down on the rock, in the green lap of Mother Nature, I could see the blue sky, hear the chirping of birds and feel the touch of a gentle breeze, soothing my entire being.

One day, as the cattle were grazing, I sat on my faithful rock, and a thought captured my heart: this rock is so strong and always stands still.  

Later that same day, I was reading the true story of a girl who met a man suffering from leprosy and had a chat with him. After a few months, her inner voice began telling her that she had to return to the same place where she had met that man.

By this time, the man had lost his eyesight completely.  But, as the girl approached him, he recognized her by the sense of smell and said loudly: My daughter has come; now I can die in peace!

Somehow these words touched me deeply and whenever I reflected on them, I experienced deep peace within and felt compelled to do something.  One day, a thought captured my mind: to live for self is normal, but to live and do something for someone else is a gift from God.

These words lingered on as I was choosing my way of life, and after I completed my studies in 2007, I joined the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, who had a school in Torpa.  My family had allowed me to be free, so when I expressed my desire, they supported me.  When I joined the congregation, I didn’t know much about it, but had heard about some of their works from my mother, who was a member of the Self Help Group.

I stayed for some days with the Torpa community and then moved to Haregaon and the novitiate community.  During those years I learned about the Society and grew to have a deep relationship with God.  

After my first vows, I stayed in several different communities, and many RSCJ contributed towards my personal growth and helped me come closer to the Divine Love of God. Experiencing this love of Christ, I was able to make my final commitment in 2019.

At present I am teaching children of the New Dawn School in Torpa.  It gives me immense joy to share the love of Christ with these young people.

As I look back over the past years of religious life, my heart is filled with gratitude to God. I did not come here by chance; God has a purpose in my life. Therefore, I experience His love and care each day.  God has accompanied me in a gentle way and given me many opportunities to become deeply aware of His unconditional love.

As I grow in religious life, I will continue to share God’s unconditional love wherever I go.