Cardinal Gracias Institute | Banner
The Friends of the Haven Society was founded in April 1954. It is registered under the Societies Registration Act 1960 and Bombay Public Trusts Act 1950.

The Cardinal Gracias Institute, set up in 1979, is a project of the Friends of the Haven Society that provides rehabilitation and shelter to Developmentally Disabled Adults.

Like all ambitious projects, this one started with little more than a dream. With no money to set it up, its founders Tutu and the late Theo decided to write to everyone they could think of and ask for assistance—including the Pope. Our blessings started back then when the Holy Father wrote back to Cardinal Gracias, the then Archbishop of Bombay, asking who these people were and what their project was all about. The Cardinal placed an official in the Examiner, a Catholic Diocesan weekly, and began to take a deep interest in the project. And that is how Theo and Tutu came to form a close friendship with Cardinal Gracias, which eventually resulted in setting up the Institute at Usgaon Village in Vasai Taluka of Thane District (which is named after him)—a wonderfully serene location in Western India known for its rolling farmlands. By the time the Institute welcomed its first inmate in 1979, the Cardinal had passed away. But his inspiration continues to fuel the efforts of this dedicated couple.

The Cardinal Gracias Institute is now a home away from home for Mentally Disabled Adults. This Institute admits both Men and Women above 18 years of age. There are many who cannot afford to pay for the support provided by the Institute, but they still find a place here: We look after several orphans who are provided for on par with paying inmates. New admissions under this category are solely dependent on the number of paying inmates, and on the donations received.

Navnit Pawar, the young man they had set out to help, was trained by Tutu Moniz to cook and do other household chores (something he loves doing despite the fact that he tends to forget figures, and can mistake 5 for 10 or 12!).

When Navnit expressed a wish to marry, they found a bride for him from the Adivasi community to which he belongs. He now has two sons—Avinash and Abhijit.

Today the project incorporates the Louis and Maria Moniz Home for Aged Men (started in 1999), and the Joseph and Angela Castelino Home for Aged Women (started in 2001) to cater to Senior Citizens with Mental Disabilities. Over the years, more and more people got involved in the work, and have generously provided assistance—in both cash and kind—so that the Institute can continue to provide love and care to some of the lesser fortunate among us: Our Forgotten Children.