Sister Immaculate Josef (born 1950) is a doctor by training and a sister of the church by choice. She combines these two facets of her life to work with persons displaced by civil strife in Sri Lanka. Immaculate works in difficult conditions that get more strenuous as the conflict escalates, but her persistence and courage and that of her team have helped save the lives of thousands of children. Their work also supports the fragile peace in the region by motivating young people to engage in peace-building efforts.
Sister Immaculate Josef pursued her religious education and her academic career in medicine with equal zeal. From 1996 to 1997, she served at the Mallavi Hospital, Kilinochchi, which served displaced people. This was the beginning of her enduring association with people rendered homeless in their own country by conflict. Since 2003, she has been a province matron of the Holy Cross Sisters, with 85 sisters working under her guidance. Immaculate works in difficult conditions that get choppier by the day as the conflict vacillates. Transportation is difficult and time-consuming; Immaculate has to put up with humiliating searches at various checkpoints; she has to brave bombings, landmines, and armed attacks; the embargo means a paucity of funds and resources. The most painful part of her work, though, is to be confronted with the destruction of the people's homeland, and the fragmentation of families, with innumerable people scattered in exile across the world. Then, of course, there is the perennial paucity of funds. The medical assistance that the sisters provide, despite these impediments, has helped save the lives of thousands of children. Immaculate also collaborates with various NGOs and church organizations to spread the net of services as wide as possible. Immaculate's work also supports the extremely fragile peace in the region by motivating young people to engage in peace-building efforts. She has devised a unique way to help children and young people connect with others from a different ethnic background-games. Although she has scarce resources and scarcer funds, Immaculate has the fortune of hope and confidence-it is hope alone that can help anyone get through the desperate reality of the war.
Holy Cross Sisters