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From Humble Beginnings: The Story of the Poor House

The history of the “Home for Aged and Handicapped,” formerly known as the “Poor House,” in Untkhana, Nagpur, is a story of generosity, perseverance, and compassion. In 1890, the Nagpur Municipal Corporation approached Monsignor Alexis Riccaz, the first Bishop of Nagpur, to care for the abandoned lepers and cripples, as other institutions had declined their request. Bishop Riccaz, however, wholeheartedly accepted the task and entrusted the Salesian Missionaries of Mary Immaculate (SMMI), led by Mother Marie Gertrude and her companions, with this act of kindness.


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(8th February 1890: Dispensary ; First work of Mercy taking care of sick and destitute

(Sr. Madelline, Mother Marie Gertrude, Mother Marie de Kostka, Sr. Joseph)

The nuns took on the challenge of providing shelter and care for up to one hundred men, women, and children in need at the Poor House. Despite facing limited resources and deplorable, decaying housing conditions, they were able to preserve the institution with the help of friends, contributions, and their own savings. Once a year, the Municipal Corporation would provide each resident with one article of clothing. The residents and nuns persevered in these conditions for nearly seventy years.




The land for the poor house was donated by Fatesinghrao Raje Bhonsale to the Catholic Mission. In a letter to the Directress General, Mother Marie Gertrude described the simple installation requested by Bishop Pelvat, consisting of only “two little mattresses, a small table, a few chairs, and two canteen trunks (for travel).” With increased global awareness of human rights and needs, a generous donation from Mr. Anaceto D’Souza of Congo-Africa, the support of Archbishop Eugene D’Souza, and the persistent efforts of Sister Solange and her colleagues, new structures were built to better accommodate the people.


Shri Ratanchand Daga

Mother Juliette

Fr. Gregory Noronha

The Department of Social Welfare in Maharashtra also gave assistance, and Shri Ratanchand Daga, a renowned social worker in Nagpur, was able to secure recognition and funding for the institution in 1963. The sections that provided care for the elderly and specially-abled were the first to receive recognition and aid, followed by those that offered skilled-based training and education for specially-abled youth and children.

Thus, the history of the Poor House in Nagpur is a testament to the selfless spirit of those who dedicated their lives to serving the less fortunate members of society. The missionary work that began with Mother Marie Gertrude and her companions in 1889 continues to touch the lives of countless people to this day.

In 1966, the poor house received a significant boost in support through the generous help of Misreor. With this support, new constructions were built and the following year saw the establishment of a well-equipped Physiotherapy Department, equipped with the latest in Electrotherapy and Hydrotherapy technology. Additionally, new wings were added to the children’s section and Prosthetic Workshop, further expanding the reach of the Home’s care for those in need.

In the 1970s, despite limited funding, the Home continued to provide essential rehabilitation and medical care for children and youth affected by polio. However, recognizing the need for increased support, Fr. Gregory Noronha reached out to friends in Germany and formed the association “Aktion Untkhana“. With their generosity and support from other dear friends, benefactors, and well-wishers, the Home was able to modernize its facilities and continue its important work of providing compassionate and loving care for those in need in our society.

Name of the ServicesSanctioned CapacityDate of Recognition
1) KRIPASADAN 10020-02-1963
2) PRERANALAYA  5008-04-1964
3) SNEHASADAN125 (Orthopedic)03-08-1964
 Orthopedic -75, Cerebral Palsy – 5006-01-2012

Guardians of Progress: Honoring our Past Secretaries


Sr. Solange
15/03/1963 to 18/07/1968

Sr. Clare Agnes
02/09/1969 to 06/07/1986

Sr. Elsy Augustine
06/07/1986 to 05/05/1990

Sr. Merlyn
06/07/1988 to 02/09/2009


Most Rev. Dr. Elias Gonsalves


Sr. Benedicta Irene

The Present Governing Body

1PresidentMost Rev. Dr. Elias Gonsalves
2Vice President  IRev. Fr. Anthony D’souza, Vicar General
3Vice-President IISr. Alice  Joseph
4ManagerSr. Divya Joseph
5SecretarySr. Benedicta Irene D’Mello
6Joint secretarySr. Veronica Rappai
7TreasurerSr. Hansa Vaghela
8Expert Member I  (Trustee)Sr. Ida Joseph
9Expert Member II  (Trustee)Sr. Lincy Kurian
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