Jyoti Thottam, author of “Sisters of Mokama: The Pioneering Women Who Brought Hope and Healing to India,” recently spoke with host Scott Rank on the History Unplugged podcast. In the April 19 episode, Thottam discusses how the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth immersed themselves abroad in the mid-1940s to provide opportunity and change to a struggling region in Indian.
Fascinated by her mother’s past as a nursing student trained by the Sisters, Thottam set out to discover the full story of Nazareth Hospital in Mokama: the six Kentucky nuns who accomplished this extraordinary task and how the lives of young Indian nurses and communities were changed forever.
In her interview with Rank, Thottam explains, in part, what led the American Sisters to travel to this unfamiliar place, not knowing if they would ever see their families again. Thottam also points out that the Sisters’ ability to adapt to the region’s needs is the true lasting legacy of the establishment of Nazareth Hospital, not just the health care that they introduced.
“This is also an institution in one of the most caste conscious, patriarchal parts of India – an institution that is 100% run by women,” Thottam says. “It has found ways to change and survive, and it’s run by women. That’s an example that I think will last far beyond even the hospital itself.”
The podcast is one of the few recent promotions of Thottam’s book and the story behind the hospital and the Sisters arrival in India. Thottam, a member of The New York Times’ editorial board, also published an essay in the newspaper on April 2.
For “Sisters of Mokama,” Thottam draws from 20 years of research to offer a fascinating glimpse at the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth’s global impact, historical significance and pioneering spirit.