Gladys Staines (born c. 1951) is the widow of Australian missionary Graham Staines. Graham Staines was burnt alive along with their two sons Philip (aged 10) and Timothy (aged 7) by a mob led by the Bajrang Dal activist Dara Singh in Odisha, India on 22 January 1999.
Shortly after the sentencing of the killers, Staines issued a statement saying that she had forgiven the killers and had no bitterness towards them. Rather than return to Australia, Staines "decided to stay in India where she and her husband had served lepers for 15 years", keeping her daughter Esther, with her, stating: "I cannot just leave those people who love and trust us. I have high regard for the people of India and their tolerance."
In 2004, Christianity Today described this woman as "the best-known Christian in India after Mother Teresa." In 2005, she was awarded the Padma Shri, a civilian award from the Government of India. As a result of the contributions earned from receiving that award, Staines transformed the leper house she served at into a full hospital. The hospital is named Graham Staines Memorial Hospital, established in 2004. In November 2015, Staines was awarded the Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice and after receiving the award, she stated "I thank God for his help in enabling me to carry out the work in caring for people with leprosy, even after my husband was killed."
Thanks to the contributions received for the Padma Shri award, obtained in 2004, the widow managed to transform the house for lepers in a real hospital, where patients can receive all the care they need. Gladys continues: "I thank God for His Grace and the support of the people which enabled the continue to serve with compassion the people. Through my award, I would like to honor the people, who through God's help continue the work. The hospital is serving the people afflicted with leprosy. Additionally, after my husband was killed, a hostel for children has been built which gives the children an opportunity for education. The Lord Jesus Christ has given me peace in my heart. I greatest wish for Orissa would be the people would become self-reliant and empowered, and live together in harmony and they may have peace in their hearts ."
Last month, Gladys was named the 2015 recipient of the prestigious Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice by the Harmony Foundation, a Mumbai-based charity that grants the only award endorsed by the famous nun's Missionaries of Charity. "I thank God for his help in enabling me to carry out the work in caring for people with leprosy, even after my husband was killed," Staines told AsiaNews after being named this year's winner.