STUDENTS at Naracoorte's Sunrise Christian School were treated to a visit by two special guests from Mukti Mission in India on Monday.
Mukta Dagde and Saroj Kadam, both of whom work at the mission for girls and women, were in Naracoorte en-route from Adelaide to Melbourne as part of a four-week tour of Australia. They were accompanied by Mukti Australia chief executive officer Glenda de Jager.
Mukti, a Christian mission founded in 1889, cares for and educates Indian women and children from its 65ha base near Mumbai.
Ms Dagde was born into a nomadic family in a community of goat herders. As a young child, she stood on a thorn which, lacking adequate medical attention, eventually festered.
Ms Dagde's condition worsened to the point that medical assistance was finally sought, at which time it was confirmed that unless her leg was amputated, she would likely die.
After her parents decided to go ahead with the amputation, Ms Dagde contracted tetanus, which caused her jaw to lock and her face to become deformed. Her parents, who also had a son and three other daughters, could no longer provide adequate care for Ms Dagde and so she was sent to Mukti to live.
She has since gone on to complete a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Masters of Social Work and now works at the mission as its director of education. Since 2012, Ms Dagde has had three separate surgical operations, courtesy of Australian donors, to gradually rebuild her face.
During the school visit Ms Kadam, who is a senior social worker and team leader at Mukti, shared insights into the work of the mission, with stories, photos and some videos.
Ms Dagde also spoke about the difference Mukti has made in her life and the lives of thousands of girls and women in India.
Their visit to Naracoorte was hosted by local Baptist Church pastor Evan Carr. Following their presentation at Sunrise, the visitors also shared their story with members of Naracoorte's Christian community at the Baptist Church.