How Assisi began
In 1974 after completing University studies in India and in the United States, Sister Stella Ettadu decided to dedicate her life to help the rural poor in southern India. She thought that to ensure financial independence and improved health outcomes, impoverished families needed a house cow.
Sister Stella visited Australia in 1974 to learn about dairy farming. She returned home to India on a cargo ship along with 33 dairy cattle. Her job on-board was to feed, milk and care for the cattle on the 54-day voyage to Calcutta. For this, Sister Stella received four cows and a bull to start her own herd on a small farm that she called Assisi Farm in honour of St Francis of Assisi.
In 1991, Sister Stella established a second small farm, close to Assisi Farm but in an arid area that she called Aussie Farm in honour of the Australians who had assisted her over the years. These farms are used as training centres for people from local villages. Milk is sold in nearby towns and the proceeds are used to fund development work.
“It’s what I have always wanted to do – to help the poor – and even though most days I do come home so exhausted and at times so frustrated, I do feel I’m making a difference,” said Sr Stella
Today, Sister Stella manages Assisi Farm and Training Centre that is based at Stella Maris convent at Kanyakumari overlooking the ocean at the southern tip of India.
Sister Stella is a skilled businesswoman and oversees the running of projects sponsored by Assisi Aid Projects with the knowledge that she is accountable for the Australian funds she receives.