“Sister Anne Françoise Vuilloud“ was born in Marcellaz-Albanais, Haute Savoie (France) in 1922 november; her parents were farmers. She was the eldest of nine brothers and sisters. After school she helped her parents, working in the fields and looking after education of her younger brothers and sisters. Then she joined the “St Joseph’s congregation off sisters” in Annecy.
In 1960 is the departure to India for the service of diseased and poor people. First she improved her nurse competencies in Calcutta. Then, more in the south, always in the east coast, in Vishakhapatnam she refines local language the “Telegu” and her English in Walter’s school.
Later, she is transferred in Prathipadu, 150 km in the south of Vishakhapatnam, not far from the mouth of Godavari river which reach the Bay of Bengal at Yanam (in the past Yanaon “French counter”). From 1964, this small community composed of a Mother Superior and three Sisters (with alone french Sister Anne Françoise) obtained approval from the district health authority to help lepers and unfortunates which survive near the convent.
A systematic screening and early detection program is set up, first in schools and over all the population. Soon health clinics are open, and even an hospital in Prathipadu. In this area there is many rice fields, sugar cane culture is also a main source of employment for a lot of poor people. The irrigation from Godavari river explain this fertility, and obviously this overpopulation.
Leper : a contagious but curable disease
It is able to inoculate this disease by physic extended contact with contaminated subject. But all subjects are not contagious, about 5 % only are. The incubation time – between six month and twenty years - make the task of our missionaries very difficult. An early detection increase healing success. First the main work of Sister Anne Françoise is to set up a detection process in an area of 150 000 inhabitants, and then follow sick people, going so far as hospitalization for the most seriously affected. This task was extended to the neighbour villages (from 20 to 7000 people), in the fields, where often even roads and tracks don’t exist. Once, coming back from a village, walking about 20 km, Sister Anne Françoise felt on the back side of a rice field and broke her leg. She underwent a surgical operation with a pin next day in Vishakhatapnam and she was back in Prathipadu ten days latter.
Prathipadu, clinic, hospital, school and boarding school
Missionary close to people for many years, Sister Anne Françoise is helped by the Sisters of the community and an efficient and dedicated staff. In Prathipadu all sick people arriving at the clinic is welcome. They care everything : maternity, sick children, lepers, general medicine, and a new terrible sickness Aids. Inside the clinic an hospital receives the most destitute and ill which stay is necessary, and where they receive a good nutrition.
For food production, the ground around the clinic has been used; rice paddies, an orchard, a vegetable garden, pasturelands for female buffaloes which produce milk, has been created. Gas for the kitchen is extracted from buffaloes fecal pats.
Sister Anne Françoise cannot remain unmoved face to misery, and despair decides herself to look after children of lepers. She installs them in the boarding school, taking over all the costs of school education and pension, encouraging their progresses. She provides material assistance to numerous lepers families in a system where they get some small jobs in exchange.
Houses to replace huts
Very moved by weakness and insalubrity of her protégés housing : just a hut covered with leaves at the mercy of storms and monsoon rains, for eight to twelve persons, she got it into her head that she must undertake a building activity. Not for building complete houses but digging for the laying of the foundations, offering the concrete of the foundation slab, applying for a government grant, leaving then the family continuing the work. And it works!
A commensurate financial support
Untill 1990, with the financial support of Order of Malta, wages of staff members were paid, as the purchases of drugs. At the beginning of 1990 this help has been stopped, creating major problem to Sister Anne Françoise. Family and friends of Sister Anne Françoise are continuing to-day to participate in the social apostolate of Saint Joseph Sisters in the area of Prathipadu. An association has been made up by people who visited this mission and was impressed by the work and unusual devotion with so few resources. Sister Anne Françoise took care of children of lepers, very few schooled. She obtained for them sponsorships through the Organisation EMAP (Enfants du Monde, Aide et Patage) located in Thonon (Haute Savoie).
Prayer and dependency apostolate
Sister Anne Françoise sew the good seed, and helped to improve behavior of thousands of lepers. Due to her age and health, she left the harvest field to go back in St Joseph’s Hospital in Whishakhapatnam. Her apostolate is going on with prayer and unquestionable acceptance with faith and courage of her enforced inactivity and dependency. She found back in this dependency, among the hospital employees, children she was helping in Prathipadu, and it represents for her, the best reward for of her works. She is pleased to see that her “masterpiece” (the word is not excessive) is going on, through the Association, boosted by sisters of Prathipadu, who are replacing her.
Once, she said in a confidence “If God wants to take me back, when he wants, I am ready”
A well-deserved tribute
On 2010 february 6th this is a time of real celebration for Annecy Saint Joseph Sisters. In their Indian mission of Vishakhapatnam, they celebrate the 50 years apostolate anniversary of Sister Anne Françoise Vullioud. Paying tribute for this years of Indian mission, we express our wonder and social recognition.
Sister Anne Françoise Vullioud left us in 2010 september 21st to join the Kingdom of Lord God, for the eternal rest.
Her family, her friends