Religious sister who ran bank for India’s poor dies at 86

The late Sr. Nancy Pereira.
The late Sr. Nancy Pereira.

.- Sr. Nancy Pereira, foundress of a Fund for the Poor bank to help impoverished clients in Bangalore, India, died on July 14 at the age of 86. Her fellow sisters remembered her for her service to the poor with “joy” and “creative solidarity.”

Sr. Nancy was born at Pudukkruruchy in the state of Kerala on August 14, 1923. She made her first profession as a member of the Daughters of Maria Auxiliatrix (FMA) on January 6, 1945.

She became well-known in the early 1990s when she started the Fund for the Poor, following the example of the Nobel Peace Prize awardee the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. According to CBCI News, clients of Sr. Nancy’s bank had to be poor people from slums or villages who lacked the opportunity to improve their livelihoods.

To obtain credit, a prospective applicant had to prove that he or she had saved a small sum for a year and had taken part in meetings of a small credit management group. The bank’s annual interest rate on its loans only covered management expenses.

The Bank for the Poor’s credit projects involved the whole family and helped improved living conditions both for many families and whole villages.

The FMA Sisters described Sr. Nancy in a short biography, saying she was convinced her vocation was “to be with the poor and to devote herself to serving them.”

“She loved all of them and tried to make them aware of their rights as well as their duties and to live their dignity as children of God. She did this with joy, involving many people in her projects for doing good. Forgetful of self, she lived a life of poverty to enrich the poor,” the sisters wrote.

Sr. Nancy, who won international recognition for her work, also founded many groups to promote women and to develop programs such as the Income Generating Programme (IGP). This effort helped the poor “live in worthy conditions and with financial autonomy,” the sisters said.


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