Gaston Grandjean: Hero of The City of Joy
From the time he was a child, through a brilliant academic career and his training as a nurse, Gaston Grandjean was deeply influenced by the plight of the needy. Realizing that the poor are exploited--even in the wealthiest, most developed of nations--the Swiss-born nurse devoted his life to improving their welfare.
He set out for some of the most impoverished areas of the world, working in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. In 1972, Grandjean arrived in India. He wandered through the countryside, giving aid where he could, but it was in Calcutta, in the slums of Howrah, that he found his life's work.
So moved was he by the dire conditions he encountered, the nurse adopted the slum as his home, living with and caring for its inhabitants. Eventually, he became a health worker with Seva Sangh Samity, a non governmental organization based in Howrah, and through his commitment, love, and compassion, he earned the trust of his neighbors.
By the early 1980s, Gaston, who assumed the Indian name Dayanand, had become a legendary figure. He is renowned as a one-man institution: whether treating victims of TB and leprosy, building NGOs, establishing volunteer groups, his work has relieved the suffering of hundreds of thousands.