YB WEB DESK. Dated: 12/13/2019 12:08:54 PM

Reeta Devi: Recipient of Padma Shri

Reeta Devi Varma is a social worker and the founder of the Delhi based non governmental organization, Ila Trust. She was honored by the Government of India, in 2012, with the fourth highest Indian civilian award of Padma Shri. Reeta Devi was born on 11 October 1942, in a rich zamindari family in Assam. Devi, an avid horse racing fan and a regular at the Friday races at the Kolkata Race Course, who gave a part of her winnings to the Missionaries of Charity of Mother Teresa, led a busy social life. Reeta Devi has been associated with Mother Teresa from the age of sixteen and the Blessed Nun of Kolkata is reported to have inspired Devi in her social career. Devi visited the refugee camps in the aftermath of the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, living in the camps to take care of the victims. She used to be a frequent visitor to Nirmal Hriday, a hospice set up by Mother Teresa for the sick, destitute and the dying where she cleaned the floors and attended to the inmates. In order to streamline her social activities, Reeta Devi founded Ila Trust, a non governmental organization named after her mother in Law, Ila Devi, on 26 October 1994. The next year, she launched the first ambulance service with doctors and paramedical staff in Guwahati and in 1996, she assisted in the establishment of a hospice for the Missionaries of Charity. One year later, in 1997, she set up another hospice for AIDS victims at a tribal village in Assam. Reeta Devi moved her activity to Delhi and the first mobile clinic for the capital city was started in 2003. The same year, the trust built a hospice for HIV and Tuberculosis patients at Betkuchi, Guwahati. It is reported that Devi sold her vehicle to raise the money for the construction. The centre, a twenty bedded unit, was donated to Snehalaya, a charity organization run by Fatima sisters of the catholic community and is now called Ila Snehalaya. The second Delhi based unit was started in 2007 with the assistance of Elton John Aids Foundation, followed by the third unit in 2012. The mobile clinic network of Ila Trust is manned by 12 doctors, 4 pharmacists, 6 screeners, 3 drivers and 2 administration personnel. Reeta Devi was successful in inducting a few highly trained medical doctors to work with the network.


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