Her Vellut Family

Claire was part of a large family, she was the youngest of six children. Her two sisters, Jeanne and Lise, came to visit her at Polambakkam as well as her brother Henri. They were able to discover the work envi­ronment of Claire. But each time Claire was coming back to Belgium for leave, it was always the occasion of family gathe­rings and even of touris­tical tours in different European countries.

Claire had chosen not to have children, but she had 21 nieces and nephews, and when you added the husbands and wives, it was for Claire many occasions of having a meal or chatting together each time she returned to Belgium. Moreover, some of them consi­dered Claire rather like an “elder sister” than their aunty. Several nieces and nephews visited her in Polambakkam, some repea­tedly. The Vellut family is rela­tively “inter­na­tional”, some have been visiting her from their country of adoption: Hubert, from Japan, a Buddhist scholar; Cécile, from Pakistan, a Little Sister of Jesus; Pierre when he was working close to Bombay; Jean-Luc and Hélèn on their return from Australia; Etienne from Peru; Jean from Chile. And among those who came “just from Belgium”, we remember : Agnes, Jean-Luc, Paul, Bruno and of course Jacques. [ Please help us to complete this list]

We do not take the risk to count the number of great-nephews and great-nieces, but as they grew, many of them also wanted to discover India and visit their “Great Aunty Claire”. Children of Jacques and Francine were the first ones, Olivier born in Madras (with Claire’s assis­tance !), Chandra, Barbara and Sebastien (who did his university thesis on the temples of Mahabalipuram); Fredo who enchanted the residents of Anandapuram with his flute tunes; Simon and Annick. Even great-great-nephews wanted to discover India and Polambakkam : Milan, son of Chandra, Shadi, son of Annick. [To be completed, please !]

But Claire also enjoyed traveling. She often took advantage of these family visits to India to discover some parts of India with her guests : some trips with Francine and Jacques; a trip with Agnes; a trip to Karnataka with Bruno and Simone; a discovery in Rajasthan with John, Paul, Marita and Tania; ( … ? ) But apart from her many travels to meet her “AFI-ICA family” (see this chapter), Claire also undertook some long journeys : including Chile-Peru with Jean and Etienne, Japan with Hubert.

In 2006, the cele­bration of her 80 years was the occasion of a large “family gathering” in Rosières, which was attended by over a hundred cousins (children and grand­children included).

When Claire decided to move home to the Home of the Little Sisters of the Poors, she not only regularly parti­ci­pated in one or another family gathering but she also received many visits (which was noted by some less-visited co-residents) : the most frequent were Agnes, Jean-Luc and Hélène, Bruno and Simone, Pierre and Martine, Jacques and Francine. Olivier, as a fire­fighter and emergency-paramedic, had often to come to the nearby Hopital St. Pierre, and took the oppor­tunity to visit her in his smart uniform !