I love Kottayam! I loved it the moment I stepped on the platform. A small railways station and a sleepy town with a few hills, rivers, rubber plantations and the backwaters just next door! And great people, especially the tablers and the circlers.
I was picked up at the station by Tr.Dinesh, who had been patiently waiting for me as my train got delayed. Within minutes, we were at his house (Kottayam isn’t that big) and the only memory of that journey is a huge JOSCO Jewelry showroom. In the next couple of days, I realized that JOSCO was a huge jewelry brand with branches all over Kerela. Dinesh’s wife, Suganthi greeted me at the door, and soon after the house was filled with fellow tablers and their wives. Most of the people I met were dentists and I don’t how so many dentists could settle in Kottayam! But then, the locals are always smiling and they have great teeth!
The next morning, Suganthi and I, set off to look at their projects. One of their biggest projects till date been at the Kottayam Medical College Hospital in Gandhinagar, Kottayam. It took us some time to reach the purifier: the hospital is huge and has a million blocks with tight security and no shortcuts! In 2006, the Kottayam Rubber Town Ladies Circle donated a huge R.O. water purifier at a cost of Rs 100,000. Till date, this water purifier is maintained by the circle, who is in charge of any repairs or malfunctions. A service engineer has to clean the filters daily to make sure that the machine works in good condition. Donating a water purifier is one thing, but maintaining it for years after that is another.
After the success of this water purifier, the Indian Children’s Hospital (ICH) also approached the Ladies Circle for an R.O. machine. Since there was a limitation of space to install the RO and also because the circlers had to be within the law of PWD, they could install only a very small machine. Though nobody was too sure about the machine’s success and feared that it would fail looking at the number of visitors, it continues to give clean water even after a year! A small notice next to machine informs the thirsty passerby about its right use.
Our next stop was the Sparsh Round Table 121 School for Children with Special Needs. Though this is a school largely funded by the Round Table, the ladies have contributed towards the building of a speech therapy room (2008), furniture (2010) and also the library (2010). The school has 52 students from in and around Kottayam and most of the education is sponsored through individual donations. The syllabus of the school has been made by Miss Pearly, who also runs her school in Bangalore. The principal Mrs Bina Thomas has been associated with the school for many years and continues to inspire many students and well wishers.
The ladies raise money through an annual exhibition called Lifestyle, which consists of booths that showcase and sell fashion, home products and decor items. On an average the funds raised is Rs 400,000 and is visited by approximately 4000-5000 people. The chairperson, Suganthi, now looks at taking over a new project to use these funds. The requirement for the school is a bus to ferry the kids. Quotations are already in place and I hope that the target is achieved soon.