“Be the change you want to see in the world.”- Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
This is the quote that is the inspiration for our long-standing volunteer Gerlinde Büchinger-Schmid.
Born in Germany, Gerlinde is a general surgeon by profession. Coming from a family of teachers she trained to be a school teacher herself. But her dearest wish was to be a doctor.
Her journey from teaching to surgery is a story of sheer determination and grit that is an example to us all.
First-aid training and a nursing qualification with the Red Cross paved the way for medical studies. The regular day and night shifts in the hospital not only enabled her to finance her studies, but also gave her comprehensive practical experience. After completing her professional training as a general surgeon, Gerlinde always approached her patients with the whole person in mind. She thus also focused on holistic medicine. Training in Chinese medicine, acupuncture and Ayurveda followed.
Fascinated by the rich culture of India and deeply moved by the suffering of the poor she started her voluntary consultant work in India. “I came to India for the first time in 1979. For more than 20 years all my holidays were spent here in different rural hospitals, leprosy centres and medical camps. So India became a second home for me.”
For family reasons she was unable to travel to India for some time. In 2001 Gerlinde learned about Udayan Care from her friend Ms. Dolly Anand, whose enthusiastic commitment as a mentor mother convinced her to support the organization.
“It is the charisma of the founder Dr. Kiran Modi and her excellent team of lifelong volunteers, with their unconditional love that requires nothing in return, that inspired me to become involved with Udayan Care.”
About her journey with Udayan Care, she says, “Udayan Care became a family to me and I’m delighted to meet all these girls and see the development in them. These children were cheated out of a large part of their childhood before they came to Udayan and I’m always moved to see how they nevertheless develop over the years. It’s amazing to see how full of affection, patience and understanding for the children these volunteers are. And what fascinated me most is their lifelong voluntary commitment. So these children get a real family. These mentors are pillars of strength, steadiness and trust and form a strong attachment to the children!”
Gerlinde has been a long-term donor to Udayan Care, a great mentor and source of assistance for our Udayan Ghar children as well as our Udayan Shalini fellows and a solid support that Udayan Care could rely on any time. Her workshops on health issues, such as epilepsy and infectious diseases, have been of great importance.
Loving support and an environment free of fear are in Gerlinde’s opinion essential for children to acquire self confidence and this is exactly what Udayan Care provides them with.
What motivates her is the happiness she derives from being with the children. “I think it is the happiness, the joyful atmosphere that all these homes give you. I am always welcomed by the children, mentors and office people”.
Gerlinde continues to work indefatigably with the belief that she can change lives for the better. Her message to the world is: “Go your way undeterred with the goal of giving unconditional love to people, regardless of religion or race, and thus pave the way for peace in the world.