Reshma Ramachandran, Senior Medical Social Worker, Pallium India, writes:
Every year, Pallium India supports the education of over 300 children from families that receive palliative care, to ensure that they don’t drop out of school due to financial burden arising from treatment expenses. Time and again, we see the earning member of the family spend their entire income on medical treatment and being driven to debt, forcing them into a life of penury.
Pallium India’s Kuttikoottam program is aimed at giving these children a sense of belonging and to convince them they are not isolated in any way. Usually during the summer vacation, we organize a 3-day residential summer camp (for students of class 9 to 12) where they have a great time with lots of fun and frolic involving games, motivational classes, career guidance classes, personality development, group activities, interaction with their mentors and solving their problems/issues, if any. One day is entirely devoted to an outdoor trip. These camps used to serve as fond memories treasured by the children and everyone involved. Pallium India’s volunteers play a vital role in mentoring the children. Their endearing approach towards them is very heart-warming.
This year, the disruption in life and activities brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic across the world impacted Pallium India too in a big way. Kuttikkoottam was one of the activities thus affected. Nevertheless, we got around to having a ‘virtual’ get-together of the children on November 21, 2020.
The virtual session of Kuttikoottam had to be restricted to 3 hours due to the limitations involved. The highlight of the event was a class on the harmful nature of Social and Sexual behavior that the adolescent children of impressionable age need to guard against. Also about the misuse of phone and its harmful effect by way of being addicted to it, was also highlighted during the session. The session was expertly handled by a Forensic Surgeon Ms. Veena J S, who is also a well-known gender justice activist.
Afterwards, each student introduced themselves to the other members of the group. Revathy Babu, an alumni of our Kuttikoottam shared her experience and feedback with the current members that served as an inspiration for them. Mentors and students got to know each other face to face. This was followed by cultural performance by the students including singing, story-telling, poetry recital, dance, etc.
A special thanks to program host Ms. Gayathri, our MSW who did a good job of it, winning the hearts of all who attended, and also to all team members who worked behind the scenes to make this event a memorable one.