Eleven families got together at TIPS (Trivandrum Institute of Palliative Sciences) on May 16th, 2010.
Families of 11 special people who are all paraplegic. Most have been confined to their beds till Pallium India reached them.
The palliative care organizations in their own areas (we call them our Iink centers) arranged for their transport.
The major objectives for arranging such a meet were:
- To get them out of their four walls. This trip symbolised a major step forward in their struggle for independence.
- To build a forum for them so that they form their own support system.
- To explore greater opportunities for vocational rehabilitation for thousands like them
- To have some fun (The day ended with an hour of spell-binding magic presented by Magic Academy, Kochi.)
They had inspiring stories to share …stories of real life…of courage, acceptance, perseverance and optimism against backdrops of tragedy, rejection, despair, apathy and insensitivity of the society they live in, brightened at times by little rays of light and hope…the essential humanity of man.
Four years ago, as he was preparing himself for his law studies, 20 year old Gokul was involved in a car crash which left him a paraplegic. After agonising years of trying to put his shattered life together, he went back to his Law Academy, this time, on a wheel chair. There were many steps to negotiate to get to the classroom. He met the head of the institution. Could they construct a ramp so that he and another student similarly disabled could get to their classes? Not only was the request turned down, it was also insinuated that his presence in the institution was emotionally distressing for his fellow students.
Many such stories of official insensitivity and social neglect and apathy came to light …but, there were also glimpses of beacons of light and hope. A young man whose own family rejected him was cared for as their own by his wife’s parents and siblings. Another had surrendered himself entirely to God Almighty and thanked Him for preserving his life. And there was Vijayaraj, who writes poetry holding a pen between his palms, because he had lost the use of his fingers. He sang an invocation that he himself had written and composed.
What was strangely fascinating about these special people was that almost all of them had such happy faces. And the show-stopper was Preetha who could never stop giggling even as she described the arduous journey uphill for about 200 meters the team which carried her and her wheel-chair had to undertake, to reach a path from where she could use her wheel chair.
She had got through to the Chief Minister at one of his phone-in programs on television and asked for a path from her house to the road on which she could travel by wheel chair. She was instructed to file an application with the local administration. However, the office wanted her to appear in person; it was not their concern that she could not walk. But Preetha was not disheartened. She heard about palliative care on the radio and eventually found the palliative care volunteer Lijo. Palliative care relieved her of her central pain. Lijo provided her with raw materials with which she could make dolls, plastic flowers and bead necklaces with her hands. She proudly displayed her wares at the meet and everything was sold out. She went back with a large order for more.
The group decided to have an organization of their own and left with an action plan for the future.
Congratulations Mr Sunaj, Dr Baburaj, and Dr Shibu and the rest of the team for initiating the program and for carrying it through so successfully. And our special thanks to our long time friend and well wisher Mr Bruce Davis from UK, who is supporting us in numerous ways with his encouragement and funding the physiotherapy project.