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World War II brunt: Nun seeks to meet relatives after 75 years of separation

By   /  September 2, 2018  /  Comments Off on World War II brunt: Nun seeks to meet relatives after 75 years of separation

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Sister Blanche Bernice Bouche. (EM Images)

Dimapur, Sep. 1 (EMN): Sister Blanche Bernice Bouche’s life story reminds you of the child character in Roberto Benigni’s comedy-drama Life Is Beautiful that has World War II as its backdrop. The reel character was united with her mother and relatives towards the end but the one in real life is yet to find any of her family members and relatives ever since she was separated from them during the Second World War. The plot hasn’t ended as she still hasn’t lost hope of meeting her relatives even after 75 years of separation.

Born in 1935 in Rangoon (now Yangon), Burma (now Myanmar), Blanche Bernice faced tragedy at a very tender age, too young to understand the profound impact it would have on her life. The Bouche family was torn apart by the World War II. Her father Eugene Andrew Bouche, a French national working at White Wave’s factory, never returned home after he was called by the government officials. Her mother Helen Matilda Nicholas, a Burmese and short hand typist by profession, was forced to escape to India due to the intensity of the war between the Allied and Axis powers.

She was just eight years old when her mother and her 6-year old brother Brian Benedict Bouche left Burma in 1943 along with a group of people to escape violence and a possible death in the region. Unfortunately, her mother died on the way due to exhaustion and hunger while walking through the forest. Her mom encouraged her and her little brother to follow the group before she breathed her last.

Blanche Bernice faced another tragedy when she reached Nagaland as she was forcefully separated from her brother. She never heard from him again. Then she was put in a convent orphanage in Calcutta (now Kolkata) where she later joined the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master congregation and took Indian citizenship. The British staying in the city tried to find her family members but didn’t succeed.

Eventually, she became the first Indian nun from Pious Disciples of the Divine Master congregation.

Sister Blanche Bernice Bouche is now 83 and lives in Italy after taking the citizenship of the country. She has a heart problem but is spirited. She tried to find her family members in 1983 by travelling to Burma but was told by the parish priest that all the people with foreign names had left for England and Australia.

She was too young to remember anything that could help her get back to her family when she left Burma in 1943. Nonetheless she managed to find some information about her family and relatives from few documents such as marriage and baptism certificates that she still holds on to in the hope of meeting someone she could call her family.

Here are details of Sister Blanche’s family:
Father: Eugene Andrew Bouche
Mother: Helen Matilda Nicholas
Brother: Brian Benedict Bouche
Paternal grandparents: Louis Bouche and Edith Bouche
Maternal grandparents: John Nicholas and Agnes Nicholas
Paternal uncles and aunt – George Bouche, Stanley Bouche, and Simonetta
Parish: St. Mary’s Cathedral, 372, BO Aung Kyaw street, Rangoon (now Yangon)

Any information and clue that may help Sister Blanche Bernice Bouche reunite with her brother, relatives, cousins, and grandchildren can be sent to raymond@easternmirrornagaland.com / rosepupa@yahoo.co.in.

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