Just another day for you and me in paradise

Delhi can be really cold in Winters. It can be as low as 4°C in December and January. I remember as a child coming back from a party in January on one such night. Our car stopped at the traffic lights and many beggars came running to get something. We all just continued with our talk and hardly noticed those kids.

Most of us hardly notice the deprived people. We hardly think of their life , their past and how they reached a stage of begging. At the most we think “Poor things” and drop in some change.

 
From my childhood I have seen so much of it. From  small children to old people to mothers begging just to survive in this world. I always thought of ways where I could make a change.

Many of us think that they are perfectly normal people who can work. Or they would just waste the money they get. Most of them are be mentally derailed people. How many of us have even used them as a helper at home? How would you expect a bank to treat them if they went with Rs. 30 to save or where would you expect them to keep this money even if they wanted to save. Many do not even have proper clothes forget about a home.

One thing I realized is that one man army generally performs best in Hollywood, a good example being Rambo.I also feel that it is totally wrong on our part to leave everything for the government to do. For most of us the power lies in a group.That is the prime reason me and my wife joint Rotary.

Poornam in it own small way has started this change. We are totally insignificant as of now but I am sure as time passes by we’ll be doing a lot more. This January we had a talk on what we should do on Republic day and Lakshmi suggested that instead of eating away to glory, let’s do community service. And it has been a great success so far. Let me just quote what Poornam kids (members of the Poornam family) think about all this and how everybody can make a change if we want.

The rest of this article is just quotes from our inhouse forums. Forums are a great way for a building a community, at which point I’ll like to mention the role Yusuf has a played role in building our small community… :-)

Here’s how it all started –

Posted: Wed Jan 21, 2004 7:48 am    Post subject: Republic Day

Hello,
 The republic day is just 5 days away on 26th Jan .
 
 Last republic day/independance day, we have not done anything. Any suggestions what we could do this important day.
 
 Sangeetha

Posted: Wed Jan 21, 2004 7:51 am    Post subject:

Are you looking forward to something like Shramadhan or giveindia.org … Hey! your Rotary would be organizing something like catract operation or something something … maybe we can contribute there ….
Lakshmi

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2004 10:24 am    Post subject:

Hello,
 For all those who would like to know what we are going to do with the donations.
 
 We will be donating to Palluruthy Destitute home run by the Govt. The people who stay there are real destitutes, street children, mental cases, people who have been abandoned by their families.
 
 Being a Govt Establishment they don’t get enough money to look after all the 200 inmates. KK has talked to this establishment, and they are happy to receive our conributions.
 
 They have specifically stressed on soaps, medicines. SInce these are consumables, the consumption is huge, and they are finding it difficult to maintain supplies of these. Also things like books, textbooks, stationary like pens will open a ray of light for such people who are living in bleak and miserable conditions.
 
 Sangeetha


We managed taking 6 boxes of clothes.
Sageeva’s experience  –

Posted: Tue Jan 27, 2004 11:40 am    Post subject:
  
Dear friends,
 
 6 days before when we started collecting old cloths no one among us thought this program will be such a great success. really that was a great experience. sangeetha did a lot to make this event successful. kk inquired about the right place. then at the time of going many were interested to come.
 
 About the coorporation …
 
 There are almost 300 persons staying there. Almost half-half men and women, from the age of 16 itself. None of us met a single person in complete normal condition.
 
 Most of them had been there by the police raid in railway station, road side etc. All their dresses are … what to say.. ugly and in pathetic condition. Anyway we gave them them the right thing they want. They need dresses the most. No one there is able to wash there own cloths. So the staff just boil them. It is essential also. So the dress will torn easily. But they r not bothered about it. They need sweets, cakes and ladoos. There was a person always by our side. There was a cover in my hand and he asked was that cake.
 There was one person from Kashmir.. bachan talked to him in Hindi… Then three women from Bihar, Bengal etc.
 
 We met there one social worker … one nurse .. then one doctor named Premeela ( KK’s friend) …
 
 The social worker named Jisha introduced us to them.. told us the stories of some of them.. she was very much interested to show us the photos of different programs conducted there.. all these programs were inaugurated by Chief Justice and such respected persons.
 
 from the beginning we were not mingling with them. At the end Jisha told us .. they need mostly our attention and caring for them. Dr. premmela told us the condition of this place is far far better than 6 yrs back.. i can’t imagine that condition.
 
 All the staff there invited all of us in poornam to come again .. visit them .. speak to them ..
 
 One important thing Jisha told is that we have to told our friend about this organization and divert more people to this field.
 
 All that we collected, our unused dresses.. some soap.. pen etc, which will not cost much to us, but these meant a lot to them.. But one sad thing is that what ever collected will not be enough/ nothing for that 300 people.
 
 Anyway that was a great experience for us.. do u agree with me?????????
 
 Regards,
 Sageeva

About 60% of Poornam contributed with old clothes, soaps , money etc. We did not stop there. We thought we’ll make it a regular effort. I am pasting below some more experiences from the kids who went and saw the place.

Posted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 8:49 am    Post subject:

For today here is what all we were able to collect
 
 1) 3 boxes of old clothes
 2) Rs. 2200 from fine collection + donations received. We were able to buy 200 towels worth Rs. 11 each with it
 
 I would like to thank all the people who donated towards this and those who gave fine also :  Lets hope that the fine component reduces and the donation increases.
 
 I would like to put in a thank you note personally towards Nishanth and KK who have been very dedicated towards this project and they could collect this much money in such a short time, especially when we realised that the old clothes were too less to give.
 
 We would like everyone to give more suggestions on how this effort of ours could be improved. We need innovative ideas now more than anything else.

Posted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 2:10 pm    Post subject:

Today we went to Shilpa special school (Vocational rehabilitation center) and an orphanage. It is the first time I am visiting such a place. Even today morning when Nishanth asked me to come with him, I was totally unaware of such a world of people living isolated from the family, their living conditons…. It is miserable…It couldn’t be expressed in words….You have to go and and see that..
 
 We are spending lot of our money simply for spending the money…. but it will be really helpful for people like these even if it is a ten rupee or five rupees. Now I think it is hundred times better to give the money for such peoples than simply putting the money in the temples and churches.
 
 I think it will not be much problem for all of us to donate Rs.10 or 20 per month for such a good deed. If anybody of you think it is something unnecessary please try to find some time to go there and see their life, it will definitely change your outlook….
 
 Sandeep

Posted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 5:23 pm    Post subject:

Let me tell you what we did today
 
 Shilpa
 ======
 http://in.geocities.com/shilpa_society/
 First we went to Shilpa which is a school for mentally challenged children from poor families. Usually in ordinary circumstances these children would have miserable existance because parents and society won’t treat them well out of ignorance. Shilpa teaches them to have basic skills like eating food on their own, they learn things like making paper bags,envelopes and candles. They get professional help from a speech therapist and from a physiotherapist. They have loving teachers to take care of them. and at the end of the day they go back to their families.
 
 Palluruthy Relief center
 ======================
 This was a very sad place. This the bottom of society. It doesn’t get lower than this. Here you have people abandoned by their families, mental cases, beggars, people from all over India are here.
 
 We saw Renuka who is a very very talented and brilliant girl who has a book full of her own poems, she draws cartoons like a pro and she talks very well. But she has slashed her wrist several times and is under medication for controling that. She has her family, but she stays in the camp. Reeshma gave her her pen.
 
 Another girl gave us her fathers address and told us to write a letter to him to take her away.
 
 Several cases of boys/girls who ran away from home, women abandoned by their husbands, even a case of a mental mother with a month old baby, old men and women who are abandoned, several of these are still visited by their relatives.
 
 We were overwhelmed. It was literally too much to take in one go. When you reach the camp, you have a lot of strange people reaching out for you, shaking your hand and asking questions. We were overwhelmed. but KK had experience last time so it was ok.
 
 They were very happy to get our towels. We personally distributed to several of them. But sadly everyone didn’t get them because there weren’t enough.
Sangeetha

Posted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 5:27 pm    Post subject:

” Life is not all about making Money…

 Its not eating Chilly Chicken or Chinese Noodles….
 Its never Celebrating Birthdays in Taj Residency….
 Its something else….”
 
 Ask Reeshma Ask KK Ask Susie Sandeep or Sangeetha…. I am pretty sure they all will agree with me.
 Never in my wildest of dreams did i imagine that a visit to Shilpa or PRS would be such an emotional one.
 We will realize the real fortunes God has showered on us, only when you visit such places.
 
 You got to go there to feel that… it can never be conveyed in words. Really friends, this visit will be far remembered by me than all the excursions and Tours i have ever made.
 
 I strongly believe that all of us should visit such places once in a while to bring soothing for those who are deprived of mental health.. who are deprived of love from their children… who are deprived of almost everything.
_________________
Keep Smiling
 Be Happy
 Nishanth

Posted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 4:00 am    Post subject:

It was really an experience that is inexpressible in words, that we had yesterday when we went to Silpa and the Relief Centre. We always think ( I used to think )
 
 “Why me alone having problems”….
 
 but once you go there and see the people there, you would realise that you are very much blessed with all the gifts that a lot many cant even think of..
 
 The first place we went was the Silpa Special School for mentally retarded children..and we could see children from the age of a few months to 27 year old guys/gals. They are not orphans, but their parents may not be so well of and the children are not having the learning abilitiy to study in ordinary schools. There are many social workers who are willing to help these kids out, even the parents are made to play a good role in the school along with the kids..
 
 There is the great lady, Dr. Premila, who started this organization in memory of her daughter. She is so much dedicated for the well being of these children, that you would feel a great deal of respect for her. She started in a small room and now its a two storeyed building. But still thats not enough. The foundation needs a more spacious builiding and they are planning to buy a 60 cent of land now, which implies that there is need for a lot of money ASAP. The kids also make stuff like paper cover, cards, candles, etc and they themselves go and give them out to shops. The social workers and the parents of these kids go to about 200 houses each day and collect each penny they can get. She is also planning to conduct a Fund raising program.But still thats not enough guys, and I would suggest that we too help them out with that amount of sum which we can donate, and also by buying the tickets for the fund raising program.
 
 Above all, we should try to make up some time to spend with those children. I was a bit surprised to find out one of my old classmates Meera at Silpa school, doing social service. You can never forget the happy faces of the kids there when they see you. I still have the smiling Junaid , shy Flowery, cute Kannan and sweet Appu of 1 year old, in my mind, its really an experience we would like to cherish.
 
 
 The next place we went was the Relief Centre, a home for the deprived people, thats run by the Corporation. As you all can imagine, its really in a bad state. Those people whom you find roaming about in the streets or those who ran away from their homes or those who have dont have enough earnings to live, can be found there.. The strength comes to about 280, men and women almost equal in number..most of them being mentally unstable…they dont have good clothes to wear, and you can see them just roaming about there..You should have seen the happiness in most of the faces when they saw us. There are mothers with small kids also, each one had a tragic story to say. We would feel surprised over the way they treasure the towel we gave them… There are beautiful and talented young girls, but at times they have mental break downs. The people need a lot of things, including food and clothes..There are indeed very kind-hearted social workers like Jisha and our Dr. Premila, who plays an active role for these people also. But we can always help them out with our old clothes and also by buying those things which these people make, like the dress materials they weave and the candles they make there… There are a lot of things to say about them, but there are certain things which are beyond our expression, we would indeed realise those feelings once you visit them and spend time with them, sharing their problems.

Reeshma

Posted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 5:50 am    Post subject:

I have been to an old age home few years back. That itself was moving …and the feeling was hard to shake. The old people come and tell you their stories ..Each has a different tale to tell … For one it would that their children are all in the States earning dollars ..but don’t have the time or the effort, to keep them ( ones who cared and nurtured them through sleepless nights) through their drooping years.
 
 But yesterday’s experience was beyond all that.
 
 Like Reeshma, Sangeetha, Nishanth and Sandeep have already mentioned above , its kind of hard to put the feelings down on paper , or to put it into words. Any words we use would be insufficient. Theirs is a world which is far removed from what we think is reality.
 
 The joy and happiness on the faces of these people when we go and see them is indescribable. The way they reach out their hands to touch you and the way their faces light up with happiness when you ask them “What’s your name” is something that needs to be seen to be believed.
 
 The Shilpa, home for mentally challenged people is such a moving experience. The children say Namaste to you when they meet you. Then they rush forward with their books to show us what they have written, some rush inside to get the covers they have made themselves and the others rush to show us the pictures they have drawn. Flowery is a 27 year old girl , who wants to build a home for herself when she grows up …
 
 The next stop , which was the relief settlement, is beyond all imagination. There the condition of the people is so bad… But the condition of the people who are still out there on the streets are worser still. Some of them are from good families. There’s a boy there who’s father is a famous doctor with a two storeyed building, who cannot stand his own son and who has kept him at this place. All because he is mentally unstable.The stories of these people are too many to tell.
 
 Those people come and surround you like you are their only hope and a ray of light in the dark tunnels of their lives. We were distributing the bath towels , which we had bought for them. The way they were flocking near the office room , when we were distributing the towels … and the joy in their faces … when we give them the towels …… is like we are giving them gold coins or something likewise. There was an old Ammoomma .. there … a Lakshmikuttiyamma … whos from a big tharavadu … with silver hair .. who when we gave her the towel said that … Every blessing shall be upon you… Her face has such grace .. even when shes in the worst of situations…The rest of the scenes are too much to describe here … and the limitation of space overwhelms me.
 
 One person can really make a difference in this world. You can touch the lives of these people. Think about it and go see for yourselves what’s happening around the world and you shall do what you can …..

Susy

Posted: Thu Mar 18, 2004 6:30 am    Post subject:   

There were 6 of us to go yesterday…We were able to collect a sum of 1730 Rs. We could spend it very effectively.
 
 1000Rs we gave to the Relief Centre to buy medicines for 3 patients who underwent cataract surgery. With 400Rs we bought oranges for all the people there. The rest 300Rs we gave to Silpa school, as sponsorship of milk for a child.
 
 The inmates of Relief Centre were very glad to see us, many asked us to take them along.. I got a nice painting from Renuka, which she had drawn for me.. They were all happy to see us again and to get the oranges.. We came to know that some of the inmates who were there last time have been taken care of by their relatives. But there were many new faces who came in after that. They said they would really feel happy when we all go and meet them, bcoz they had no one to take care of them , unlike us. I hope next time more than 6 of us would be able to go there.

Reeshma

Posted: Thu Mar 25, 2004 7:52 am    Post subject:

Hi,
 Ginu and Riya said they will write here shortly. 
 
 But let me briefly explainwhat all we could do on March 17th
 
 We were able to collect a sum of 1730 Rs.
 
 1) 1000Rs we gave to the Relief Centre to buy medicines for 3 patients who underwent cataract surgery.
 2) With 400Rs we bought oranges for all the people there. (The people in PRS were so happy to see oranges. They’d never been given oranges)
 3) The rest 300Rs we gave to Silpa school, as sponsorship of milk for 2 children for 1 month.
 4) 1 carton of old clothes to PRS
 5) 1 electronic typewriter to Shilpa and 1 manual typewriter to PRS for vocation training. (These were actually typewriters retrieved from a bank that was getting computerised  )
 6) 3 people (anonymous) donated money(almost 5-10% of their salary) to sponosor children in Shilpa on a monthly basis. These donors met the families and the children whom they were to sponsor and formed a personal bond with them.
 
 Besides all this, the people in Poornam who went were able to inspire tremendous hope in the residents of PRS. These people were amazed to see that we actually returned to see them. They thought we are like those people who just visit once and go. So much so that some kids in PRS made gifts like paintings and wrote poetry for us, and waited for us to come back so that they could give it to us.
 
 I am so glad that Poornam has been able to do this tremendous task. For the last 3 months, In its small and steady way, Poornam has actually changed the lives of the people around us.
 
 I would like to especially thank Reeshma for her real support. In a time when others talked, she actually believed in what she was saying and did it. I am privileged to have associated with her. I will also like to thank others who worked and came to PRS.
 
Regards
 Sangeetha

Posted: Thu Mar 25, 2004 10:54 am    Post subject: Here is good news.

Here is good news.
 
 Kishore has been in touch with the Distibutors of HLL, for soaps at a good price.
 
 They have Breeze @ 4.54 rs.
 if we pick 300 pcs it costs rs.1362.00 Kishore has generously agreed to take care of 50% of the cost. 
 
 I am really happy to see all of you involved in this. We can now present 300 soaps to PRS on our next visit.
 
 sangeetha

Posted: Thu Mar 25, 2004 11:48 pm    Post subject:

It felt nice to go to Shilpa & PRS; esp in Shilpa..the few children we met were very lovable and one feels like spending more time with them. The small things we do would help them in at least some way.
 
 In PRS, we distributed oranges. There were women who asked us to bring small earrings next time  And a lot of them asked if they could come along. There were some who spoke to us in hindi & tamil & a lady who was dumb..trying to tell us things. The fact that we went there seemed to make them happy.
 
 It was a nice experience and if a later trip is planned, maybe it could be sometime earlier in the daytime when all the Shilpa kids are still in school.

Some of the happiest moments of my life has been this. There is a sense of pride seeing the kids in Poornam taking all the effort and in our own small way making a change to the people around us.

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