Thursday, 4 February 2010

A saviour from overseas

A saviour from overseas

Asha PrakashFirst Published : 03 Feb 2010
Rev Linse cannot pronounce words like ‘Irinjalakkuda’ or ‘Annamanada’ properly. But that doesn’ t stop him from speaking animatedly about his life mission - to serve the poor, the sick, the physically and mentally challenged and the homeless in India.

It was a chance meeting with a priest from Kerala in 1972, who told him about the scenario in India, that made Monsignor Rev Rolfe Linse, a native of Duisburg, Germany, chart the entire course of his life. 38 years and 24 visits to India later, Rev Linse has been responsible for funding 52 charity institutions spread over 10 states in India, among which are vocational training institutes, schools, orphanages and medical clinics.

The All Saints Centre, Pullur, Pratheeksha Bhavan, Irinjalakkuda and Asha Bhavan, Annamanada, are some of them. And where does he find the enormous amount of funds needed for maintaining these institutions? He generated 70 percent of it by himself, incredible as it seems, by selling spices, tea etc from India in the open air markets in Germany.

His work has inspired a group of students to take up the cause and help him, but even when there is none, Rev Linse can be found pressing passersby to buy something, say his coworkers, even in cold winter days. At times he collects waste paper, used books and other materials to sell or conducts charitable walks. The funds collected thus have crossed a whopping 15 crore in Indian rupees so far.

But what makes him so passionate, to the point of being obsessed, about the cause? “Because I’ve experienced hunger first-hand,” he says, showing white marks on his feet, remnants of past malnutrition. Rev Linse had to flee from home with his mother and brother during the II World War when Germany came under the attack of Britain. They had nothing with them but the clothes on their back and had to spend 11 years in misery. Both he and his brother later entered the Ministry and before long, Rev Linse started charity work.

A feature of Rev Linse’s work is that his focus is always on making the poor and the deprived self-sufficient, whatever their disability.

The children at the homes funded by him are trained to be tailors, blacksmiths, welders etc.

Rev Linse is now 76 years old and retired but has no plans of retiring from his work. “Given a choice, I would like to settle in India, I have nobody in this world but my brother. But here they don’t need my hands, they need only my finances.” But the poverty levels in India are so huge and despite the staggering number of people he has rehabilitated, isn’t it all just a drop in the ocean? “When you are in a desert, even a little greenery is welcome.

That greenery is what I try to achieve,” he says. For details about Rev Linse’s work, or to donate, look up


To read it in original, please visit, A saviour from overseas

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