It was actually 3 or 4 hours.
Rajee is the chairperson of Kottayam Ladies Circle No.48 and was also, if I may say so, my tour guide for the three hours I spent with her. In this time, we drove through the width and breadth of Kottayam, covering three projects that the circle has supported.
We first went to Bala Vidyalaya, a school for the hearing impaired. Located in Vadavathoor, the school is run by Shaji aunty, who started this ten years ago. She works with children with heavy hearing disabilities from early on till the age of six. After that, the children are ready to be a part of any school. Shaji aunty teaches basic hearing and speech as well as pre school exercises. The capacity of the school is twenty on the upper limited as she believes that there should be one teacher to four/five students. Her teachers are also trained in Chennai. The Ladies Circle has contributed Rs 50000 per quarter to the school for the last four years. This money is utilized in running of the school, teacher salaries as well as hearing aids. I was extremely moved to see the students who had a smile on their faces while they were studying.
Our next stop was Ammaveedu or the Mother’s Home. The drive to this orphanage for boys was quite something. We drove through narrow paths, turning left and right and left again, through coconut and banana trees before reaching the Home. This orphanage, which belongs to a Trust,is run by a priest. The building is quite recent and is still going through a few changes and final touches. But its beautiful! Since it is in a quiet corner of Kottayam, this place felt like heaven. The 30-odd boys, who stay here love being here as they also have a huge playground. The ladies Circle has contributed money to build a kitchen, buy furniture like beds and tables.
Our last stop was Santhiwanam, a home for destitute women and street children. While the children can stay here for long, the women are only allowed short stays. The women are usually victims of alcoholic husbands who beat them regularly as well as sexually abuse them. The trust takes the women in while the husband go for rehab. They are only allowed to go with their husbands after making sure that they are not tortured again. At the time of writing, There are 59 inmates at Santhiwanam out of which 24 are children. Ladies circle is one of the main contributors to this project and have recently donated money for a new water tank. Their previous contributions were used to purchase land and build the home where the women love today.
In a male oriented society, it’s very difficult to run such projects and the lady who runs this knows this best. She has been threatened many times by the husbands but has still managed to fight on. It’s because of these brave acts, we are inspired to do our little bit.