"Best Mother of Mongolia"
1993, Gabrielle took time out from a nursing career
in Australia and went to work in one of Mother Theresa's
children's homes in Calcutta. After that she decided
to become a yogic nun in the Ananda Marga order. She
is now also known by the name of Didi Ananda Kalika.
Didi's's first assignment was to work in Mongolia.
Didi has built up the Lotus Children's Centre making
tremendous personal sacrifice. She has become the mother
to nearly seventy children.
The Lotus Children's Center now cares for sixty-seven
children ranging in age from 2 months to 21 years. The
Center began in Didi's apartment in 1993 as a drop-in
center for street children. By 1995 it expanded into
four family homes in Yarmag district, a poor Ulaanbaatar
suburb. And in 1998 Didi built a center for babies and
infants withthe help of the Australian government. The
Center's children live in small groups in an atmosphere
as close as possible
to normal family life. They shareresponsibilities, such
as helping with the daily chores, and looking after
children younger than themselves. In fact, in our homes,
the children find a mutual support structure that they
have never experienced before.
The Centre also runs a kindergarten school for thirty-four
of her children and a soup kitchen that provides a hot
meal five days a week for 50 of the poorest people in
the neighbourhood. This service provides enough stability
for some children to remain at home with their families.
Wednesday a special group of fifteen mothers come to
the kitchen from a twenty-mile radius. They have no
fixed source of income and live on the edge of survival
with their children. Didi has started an income-generating
program for them.Every week they sew calico bags for
a gold mining company (used for collecting soil samples)
on sewing machines provided by the company. For the
first 40 bags they get a week's supply of food and for
every additional bag they get a cash payment. One mother
has been able to buy a new ger (Mongolian tent) in this
She also started a shelter for 9 girls at risk of prostitution
and a women's shelter for single mothers. She had dug
a well and had running water first time in 2001. The
Centre has a bath house and laundry and solar panels
On June 1st, 2001, Didi was awarded the title "Best
Mother of Mongolia" with twelve other women in
a nationwide search for remarkable women. In August,
2001 Didi was selected for the Paul Harris Fellow award
by the Rotary Club of Canberra Sunrise. Didi also volunteers
as Assessor of Projects for the International Women's
Organization of Mongolia.