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How hospital-building nuns thrived in their mission

Thottam_Jyoti © Damon Winter 2021.jpg
Damon Winter/The New York Times
07/28/21 - (EDT) - RANDALL, NY - Jyoti Thottam photographed in Randall, New York Photographed August 3, 2021. # 30258430A ( Photo by Damon Winter/ The New York Times )

SISTERS OF MOKAMA is a new book from New York Times editor Jyothi Thottam. It chronicles the story of six Catholic nuns who left Kentucky to open a hospital in India in 1947. Several things were radical about the hospital at that time--it was run mostly by women, and they treated anyone who came through the door, regardless of social standing or wealth. The hospital is still operating in a slightly different form, even until today. Thottam comments on why she thinks the sisters thrived under difficult circumstances.

“I really think that this is a big part of why they’ve been able to endure and continue the work they’re doing,” Thottam said. “They have been so open to change and so willing to adapt to the environment they’re in. If there is a lesson for other groups or individuals or institutions that want to try to do this kind of work, I think that’s a really important one. This group of sisters was always able to see the place for what it was and recognize that this is the need that’s there now and we need to adapt ourselves to meet that need. Rather than assuming that they knew what was needed before they ever got there. And I think that was something quite unusual about them.”

Hear the whole conversation about Thottam's book SISTERS OF MOKAMA on the Gulf Coast Life Book Club as a podcast or Wednesday (June 1) at 1 and 9 PM on WGCU.