addarrow-downarrow-leftarrow-rightarrow-up82CF3E98-D323-4B3E-9EDD-EF2E73FB5C9E@1xcancelclosedowndownloademailIcons / Social / FacebookfilterhomeIcons / Social / InstagramleftIcons / Social / LinkedIn895A4639-EEE0-4BEB-B7D1-CAB21217861B@1xMenu IconremoverightSearchtagtik-toktimeline-arrow-lefttranslateIcons / Social / TwitterupIcons / Social / YouTube

Joan Evans - TLM Hero

An older woman in glasses and a blue blouse sits at a desk

In 1956, British-born Joan Evans went to Purulia, Eastern India, to take charge of the school for children affected by leprosy. She worked closely with Eddie Askew the superintendent, sometimes acting as secretary to Eddie and Dr V.P. Das, Secretary for South East Asia.

Joan never severed her ties with The Leprosy Mission, but after ten years, Joan left Purulia and went to work for the Bishop in Kolkata., where she felt she was more needed. She was accompanied by four persons affected by leprosy who worked alongside her. As Joan later explained in her book, ‘Bridging the Gap’, their plan was to work as social workers in the slums of Howrah. She would visit houses door-to-door to try and meet the needs of the malnourished community who who struggling with both leprosy and TB. They stayed in a home provided by the Bishop and continued to reach out to people who needed them there – even as Joan opened and ran St Luke’s Children’s home for destitute children in Bosekati.

Joan recognised the need to care for women in Howrah with TB. With the help of the Bishop she founded The Bantra St. Thomas’ Home. The Bishop raised the necessary funds and a simple single floor construction with basic amenities was built. This was an oasis of calm in the midst of the chaos of the Howrah slums, inaugurated by the Bishop of Calcutta & Chairman of Calcutta Diocesan Trust Association on 17 November, 1976. It was given the name “House of Peace”. Joan moved into her accommodation there and administered the home from her office. This was Joan’s home until she left India.

The beautiful building belongs to the Calcutta Diocesan Trust Association. In 1976, it provided accommodation to 14 – 17 women and children suffering from Tuberculosis.

The Bantra St. Thomas’ Home initially provided patients with a good diet, rest companionship and love. All treatment and TB drugs were provided free of cost through the Government Hospital of Howrah. Qualified Doctors visited the home free of cost.

When Joan returned to England permanently in 1984, she left the home in the capable hands of her Indian co-workers, and established a trust to help administer St Luke’s and channel funds to it. The work continued until 2000 when the home was taken over by the Bishop and run by The Calcutta Diocese. “She was an amazing person – what she achieved was amazing,” recalled her colleague, Rosemary Tootle.