October 25th, 2006
Hmm.. here is a lady, who seems to be in her mid 20s. She is seen wearing a torn green blouse along with a blue saree which is torn at various places. She is looking very dirty. Her hair is stuck in an inseparable mass and her face and hands have a dash of something black. At the outsight, she looks so dirty that you would never go near her. She picks rags with a stick from the neighbourhood dustbin, eats shit and drinks sewage.
Does that description sound familiar? How many of us have noticed such people? Have we ever cared for them? Oh! we never even took enough time to even think about them, leave alone care them. What is the fate of these people?
Fortunately, some of these people have a very good future. How? People at Anbalayam, located in the South Indian district of Tiruchirapalli (Trichy) have a dedicated set of persons whose daily job is to scout the areas in and around Trichy to find these wanderers. What’s worse is that most of these wanderers are mentally ill. Anbalayam finds them and brings them to their home, which is located near the Trichy airport. They bath them, cloth them, trim their hair and give them proper treatment for their disability. They even let these people stay with them FOREVER. Until now, they have more than 70 mentally ill people out of which many were found wandering the city. They have even reunited these people with their families after treating them.
This was one small and divine experience I got when I visited Anbalayam during Deepavali festival. The home is being run by Mr. Senthil. Though he is a lawyer by profession, he is taking care of the home he lovingly developed and ran successfully for 16 full years. One astonishing fact is that, one of the caretakers of the home was a mentally retarded man. Did you notice was in the previous line? That man was actually brought back to his good senses by the supportive doctors at Anbalayam and now, he takes care of more than 50 mentally retarded people.
Managing the mentally retarded
… is a damn tough job. Some of them are very violent that they will fight heavily among themselves and settle for a good joke. Managing these violent people is a tough task because they have enormous physical power. They urinate in their own places itself and through their sheer muscle power, they even beat up the cleaners, sometimes. People who do this cleaning job and serving them by bathing them and having lunch with them must be worshipped because of the sacrifice they are doing.
Besides housing mentally ill, Anbalayam also has a home for people affected with HIV positive. They also have an old age home.
Festival of Lights
This Deepavali has been enlightening for me because it showed me another world, with another set of people doing great service to humanity. I know many of us will not be able to dedicate ourselves with such service to humanity. But we can surely contribute what we can, either in cash or in kind, whichever is suitable. If you are interested, please get in touch with Mr.Senthil.
Anbalayam also has a website at http://www.wanderingmentallyill.org. Please take some time to go through the site and have a look at the amazing work they are doing. And if possible, contribute too.