Joan Nabert, who served as a missionary of the ELCIC and its predecessor bodies from 1956 to 1992, died quietly with family at her side on November 20, 2005 at age of 77. Joan is survived by her four married daughters and seven grandchildren. Her husband E. Edwin Nabert predeceased her in 1981.
Joan served as a missionary with her husband Ed in India, first in Andhra and later in Delhi. In Bethany Village, north of Delhi, she was involved in helping people affected by leprosy. They wanted to earn a living but were not able to find employment because of the fear of their disease. Joan became the co-founder and director of MESH (Maximizing Employment to Serve the Handicapped) which helps people who have had leprosy produce and market broiler chickens and handloom textiles. Later the organization grew to include working with other similar organizations throughout India.
"When Joan and some friends decided to raise broiler chickens and start weaving and dyeing activities in that village, they did it with a thoroughness and energy that has lingered," said Jacky Bonney, director of MESH India in a report to CLWR in 2002. "The model Joan developed spread into two other leprosy colonies and has impacted the 30 or so other groups of disabled people from whom MESH buys," said Bonney.
After her retirement, Joan continued to market MESH products in a store she leased in her hometown (New Hamburg, Ontario), through Canadian Lutheran World Relief and a number of private individuals in Canada, the US and several European countries. When she decided it was time to retire from MESH Canada in 2000, her operation merged with CLWR’s alternative trade program. It was a natural fit because of CLWR’s longstanding relationship with MESH. CLWR’s growing alternative trade program sells more than $75,000 worth of MESH products each year.
A memorial service to celebrate Joan’s life took place on November 25 at Trinity Lutheran Church in New Hamburg where Joan was a member.
- Compiled from reports by André Lavergne (Joan’s pastor), Mike Peery (her son-in-law) and Tim Graff (CLWR Communications Director)
Established September, 1995. Page revised December 20, 2005.