The Rehabilitation unit was established in 1965 under the stewardship of Mrs. Heidi Dutt Zehnder from Switzerland. This unit has been relentlessly serving till today, enabling the cured patients with deformities to live a life with dignity.
The Rehabilitation Unit at Father Muller’s was started by the Swiss Emmaus Organization in January 1965 as a small occupational Therapy Unit on an experimental basis, mainly to find out the needs in the field of leprosy rehabilitation. The late Fr. Marian Fernandes, who brought about the collaboration with Swiss Emmaus and Father Muller Charitable Institutions where he introduced physiotherapy, occupational therapy and rehabilitation facilities.
In 1965, Mrs Heidi Dutt Zehnder arrived in Mangalore and joined the Swiss Emmaus team of Fr. Muller’s occupational therapy unit which started functioning under her guidance.
The backbone of the work is still considered to be the home industry programme, where the leprosy afflicted or disabled can work freely in their homes. They are supplied with raw material. They bring their finished goods and are paid piece rate wages. The sale of products is done by the Unit.
The local Mangaloreans got interested, shops increased their orders, the products were improved, the range steadily expanded and exports to European countries started. The main goal of the rehabilitation unit is to help the handicapped to help themselves. Our rehabilitation programme is an approach to making the disabled skilled persons, acceptable in society. The unit takes special care to provide necessary help and guidance to all these trainees in their emotional and socio-economic problems. From 1965 till today the Unit has rehabilitated 400 trainees.
V.R.A Project : The Vocational Rehabilitation Project (V R A) was conceived by the late Director, Fr. Marian Fernandes, with the idea of brining relief to the physically handicapped patients. It was started in February 1969 to provide training facilities in tailoring, printing, light mechanic and light carpentry.
In 1975, Fr. Bernard Moras, the then Director, decided to merge this project with the rehabilitation unit .This merging was a great help to train the leprosy patients with education and those with less disabilities to integrate with their family and society. Both the units have served the most needy persons of society. A large number of leprosy patients and people with other disabilities have been cared for irrespective of caste, creed or religion.
All the visitors to the unit have expressed high appreciation of the service rendered to the needy of the society. Today the articles made are so diverse in form and design that attracts the students,staff and visitors who buy them .It serves as an encouragement and hope into the lives of those who are cared for here, through their visits and purchases of our products.
The Rehabilitation programme aims at teaching and training the cured patients in crafts to make them useful citizens capable of leading life with dignity and contributing towards the progress of society in their own way. The rehabilitation unit trains these people in producing jute bags, greeting cards, wall hangings and batik, besides training some of them in book binding and printing.
This institution was the first in this district to integrate leprosy into the general medical services and to think of rehabilitation and reconstructive surgery and many a welfare project for the benefit of the leprosy patients.