PANPUR: “A reincarnated rickshaw puller,” is how Dominique Lapierre likes to call himself. His visit on Wednesday to a centre for physically challenged children, which is named after him, here in Howrah district, was an occasion for happiness for the children and their parents.
Interacting with them, Mr. Lapierre seemed satisfied with the change his City of Joy Foundation, that funds the centre, had brought to them. “Working for the mentally and physically challenged children is great.”
The French author of The City of Joy, who portrayed Kolkata’s zest for life and made the characters of Stephen Kovalski (a Polish priest) and Hansari Pal (the rickshaw puller) memorable, was accompanied by Brother Gaston Dayanand, the novel’s inspirational protagonist.
A fan of Mother Teresa, Mr. Lapierre said his next focus of development projects would be the Sundarbans. “It’s a place close to my heart… the only way to access the numerous islands are the boats and there is wide scope for development in the islands. Drinking water is an issue; salinity and arsenic content of water in that area is rising. We plan to install filters there for drinking water.”
His Foundation would work for cataract patients in the Sundarbans. “On a recent visit... I observed many suffering from cataract… India is giving me a golden opportunity to restore people’s vision.”