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Sisters of Mokama: The Pioneering Women Who Brought Hope and Healing to India

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Sisters of Mokama is proof that faith and courage does move mountains. -- Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone The never-before-told story of six intrepid Kentucky nuns, their journey to build a hospital in the poorest state in India, and the Indian nurses whose lives would never be the same New York Times editor Jyoti Thottam's mother was part of an extraordinary Sisters of Mokama is proof that faith and courage does move mountains. -- Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone The never-before-told story of six intrepid Kentucky nuns, their journey to build a hospital in the poorest state in India, and the Indian nurses whose lives would never be the same New York Times editor Jyoti Thottam's mother was part of an extraordinary group of Indian women. Born in 1946, a time when few women dared to leave their house without the protection of a man, she left home by herself at just fifteen years old and traveled to Bihar--an impoverished and isolated state in northern India that had been one of the bloodiest regions of Partition--in order to train to be a nurse under the tutelage of the determined and resourceful Appalachian nuns who ran Nazareth Hospital. Like Thottam's mother's journey, the hospital was a radical undertaking: it was run almost entirely by women, who insisted on giving the highest possible standard of care to everyone who walked through its doors, regardless of caste or religion. Fascinated by her mother's story, Thottam set out to discover the full story of Nazareth Hospital, which had been established in 1947 by six nuns from Kentucky. With no knowledge of Hindi, and the awareness that they would likely never see their families again, the sisters had traveled to the small town of Mokama determined to live up to the pioneer spirit of their order, founded in the rough hills of the Kentucky frontier. A year later, they opened the doors of the hospital; soon they began taking in young Indian women as nursing students, offering them an opportunity that would change their lives. One of those women, of course, was Thottam's mother. In Sisters of Mokama, Thottam draws upon twenty years' worth of research to tell this inspiring story for the first time. She brings to life the hopes, struggles, and accomplishments of these ordinary women--both American and Indian--who succeeded against the odds during the tumult and trauma of the years after World War II and Partition. Pain and loss were everywhere for the women of that time, but the collapse of the old orders provided the women of Nazareth Hospital with an opening--a chance to create for themselves lives that would never have been possible otherwise.


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Sisters of Mokama is proof that faith and courage does move mountains. -- Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone The never-before-told story of six intrepid Kentucky nuns, their journey to build a hospital in the poorest state in India, and the Indian nurses whose lives would never be the same New York Times editor Jyoti Thottam's mother was part of an extraordinary Sisters of Mokama is proof that faith and courage does move mountains. -- Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone The never-before-told story of six intrepid Kentucky nuns, their journey to build a hospital in the poorest state in India, and the Indian nurses whose lives would never be the same New York Times editor Jyoti Thottam's mother was part of an extraordinary group of Indian women. Born in 1946, a time when few women dared to leave their house without the protection of a man, she left home by herself at just fifteen years old and traveled to Bihar--an impoverished and isolated state in northern India that had been one of the bloodiest regions of Partition--in order to train to be a nurse under the tutelage of the determined and resourceful Appalachian nuns who ran Nazareth Hospital. Like Thottam's mother's journey, the hospital was a radical undertaking: it was run almost entirely by women, who insisted on giving the highest possible standard of care to everyone who walked through its doors, regardless of caste or religion. Fascinated by her mother's story, Thottam set out to discover the full story of Nazareth Hospital, which had been established in 1947 by six nuns from Kentucky. With no knowledge of Hindi, and the awareness that they would likely never see their families again, the sisters had traveled to the small town of Mokama determined to live up to the pioneer spirit of their order, founded in the rough hills of the Kentucky frontier. A year later, they opened the doors of the hospital; soon they began taking in young Indian women as nursing students, offering them an opportunity that would change their lives. One of those women, of course, was Thottam's mother. In Sisters of Mokama, Thottam draws upon twenty years' worth of research to tell this inspiring story for the first time. She brings to life the hopes, struggles, and accomplishments of these ordinary women--both American and Indian--who succeeded against the odds during the tumult and trauma of the years after World War II and Partition. Pain and loss were everywhere for the women of that time, but the collapse of the old orders provided the women of Nazareth Hospital with an opening--a chance to create for themselves lives that would never have been possible otherwise.

52 review for Sisters of Mokama: The Pioneering Women Who Brought Hope and Healing to India

  1. 4 out of 5

    BookishlyWise

    Anyone who has studied in a convent school in India has heard about the Sisters of Charity. Their work has brought hope and joy to millions of people across the globe. This book brings forth their stories and I am so happy this book was written!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Renderos

    It starts off slow and there is a whole lot of background and historical information in those first few chapters. At the beginning - I had some confusion keeping all the information straight about who is who and why that information is relevant to me as the reader. I almost didn’t want to continue on, but the description just sounded like something I would love to know more about so I trudged through and I am glad that I did. But once the book settles - there is a good rhythm to it. The story is It starts off slow and there is a whole lot of background and historical information in those first few chapters. At the beginning - I had some confusion keeping all the information straight about who is who and why that information is relevant to me as the reader. I almost didn’t want to continue on, but the description just sounded like something I would love to know more about so I trudged through and I am glad that I did. But once the book settles - there is a good rhythm to it. The story is fascinating especially if you have any interest in the delivery of Healthcare. As a former nurse, I found the story to be incredibly inspiring as to all the difficulties they overcame to get an actual hospital up and running. I learned some things about both the religious life as well as India that I had never known before. Be sure to read the epilogue to learn what happens to each Of these people after the story concludes.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    An excellent history of 6 brave and devout nuns who volunteered to go to India to found a hospital and provide medical care for a poor community. Listening to what they had to endure just to get to the village of Moka was quite affecting. There is a religious tone to this book as it was their mission, but this story is also about the oppportunities for these women to contribute in a meaningful way at a time when women’s roles were more limited. Reading this book certainly made me realize the abun An excellent history of 6 brave and devout nuns who volunteered to go to India to found a hospital and provide medical care for a poor community. Listening to what they had to endure just to get to the village of Moka was quite affecting. There is a religious tone to this book as it was their mission, but this story is also about the oppportunities for these women to contribute in a meaningful way at a time when women’s roles were more limited. Reading this book certainly made me realize the abundance I am fortunate have in my own life. As usual, I listened to this as an audiobook and narrator Laura Jennings employed a steady pace and compassionate, engaged tone to narrate this interesting story.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ...

    Jyoti Thottam presents an inspiring story of 6 wonderful women -- nuns -- who traveled to India where they founded a hospital and provided care for the very poor. Sisters of Mokama: The Pioneering Women Who Brought Hope and Healing to India was an interesting and hopeful book, that left me looking at the world with a bit rosier view. There is a religious tone, but it never felt preachy. I found all of these women to be brave, trailblazing, grateful people, and the book allows the reader to remem Jyoti Thottam presents an inspiring story of 6 wonderful women -- nuns -- who traveled to India where they founded a hospital and provided care for the very poor. Sisters of Mokama: The Pioneering Women Who Brought Hope and Healing to India was an interesting and hopeful book, that left me looking at the world with a bit rosier view. There is a religious tone, but it never felt preachy. I found all of these women to be brave, trailblazing, grateful people, and the book allows the reader to remember the things for which we can all be grateful.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    This book was of particular interest to me because I have two great-aunts who were members of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth during this time period. They never went to India as the nuns in this book did but I was very interested to read about the order. One nun in the book was one of only surgeon sisters at that time.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Alicia Guide

    Thottam’s book is one of these rare pieces of non-fiction that reads like a novel. The writing is poignant, lively & detailed to the point where I can intimately see, hear and feel what Thottam, her mother and the sisters/nuns from Kentucky experienced in India. I feel like I’m traveling right along with the author. Five stars is just not enough for this amazing boo!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rosann

    A well written account of post partition India, a group of nuns from an order in Kentucky, and the hospital they founded. This well researched book pulls together the turbulent times, economic stresses, social struggles, religious differences, and brings a personal touch to one and all. Good writing, an important story, and an interesting time period reward the reader.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mimi Berkshire

    An interesting true story about midwestern nuns who move to India to start a hospital in a poor area called Mokama . It was written by the Indian daughter of one of the nurses who worked there. It covers the time from the middle 40’s to now and describes an era that is long gone. The writing sometimes drags on in describing events but the story itself is amazing.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Molly Cox

    Excellent.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    "21 new books hitting shelves this week," Lit Hub, 4/12/22 "21 new books hitting shelves this week," Lit Hub, 4/12/22

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

  12. 4 out of 5

    Leela

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sara Fort

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jodie

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    Anne

  16. 5 out of 5

    Katie Mcpherson chimbanda

  17. 4 out of 5

    Diane Higdon

  18. 4 out of 5

    Casey Seidel

  19. 4 out of 5

    Judy

  20. 5 out of 5

    Claire Hagar

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Hartz

  22. 4 out of 5

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    Deb

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