Friday, February 5, 2010

All you need is a social conscience

How often have we seen a mentally challenged person on the streets and walked away without trying to see if they could be helped? Here is what Pramila Payal of Pune did in a similar circumstance:

Dear Kiran,
Here is the report that you had asked for.

Just the day before yesterday, I was waiting at a bus stop near my house. I saw a woman screaming at three to four men who were making fun of her. She was in her mid-thirties and was dressed in a clean saree, but looked mentally disoriented. After I shot the men a dirty look, they quit fidgeting with her. 

I thought about getting into the matter and inquiring about her. The men told me that the woman had been there for the past twenty days, staying there day and night, with only two belongings that were two small plastic bags. In response to my asking the men about whether they had informed the police about the matter, they said that they had informed the police twice, but no action had been taken by them. Across the road, there was a man who is well-known in this area, Avi Gaikwad and so I discussed the matter with him, saying that I would think of some means to help the woman. 

I tried speaking to some of my contacts who would be able to help, and incidentally, I realised that I myself was a part of an NGO called Maher a few years back. Maher is an ashram which takes care of destitute and mentally retarded women. I contacted them, asking them about how they could help the woman. Since they would not be able to arrange for a vehicle that day, they suggested that I should take her to the ashram in Wagholi. As she was mentally retarded, I was skeptical about taking her to the ashram myself. So they said that they would come the next day.

The next morning, I contacted the Maher office, but they were not very enthusiastic about it. So I got hold of the contact number of Sister Lucy from a friend. Sister Lucy runs the ashram. You can go the their website and read about her. She took very prompt action and told me to make an application to the police chowki that I would take the responsibility of handing over the lady to the ashram, so that in case of any  further requirement, they would be able to contact me. This was also a legal procedure that needed to be taken. She also said that she would send a van along with a counseller and helper to take the lady.

After an hour or so, I received a call from the volunteers that they had reached the pick-up point I had suggested. When I reached there, I saw their van there, and they told me that they had found the lady. But when I looked at her, I was astonished to see another lady. I told them that they had got the wrong person  They replied that they found her in the same area and she seemed to be mentally retarded, so they took her. 

She was sitting in the corner of the van, huddled safely in the corner. She felt secure there, and seemed as if she didn't want to get out of the van. She was dumb, and was drooling, dressed in tattered clothes. We finally found the lady aforementioned, and then we told her that some people had come from the ashram, and they would take her there to look after her. She was unwilling to go at first, and she started saying that she was wounded and could not walk. After assuring her that she would be given medical assistance, she agreed to go with them and sat in the van.

I went to the police chowki with Avi, who would be a witness along with me. After giving the police the details, we told them to accept the application. They were very cooperative and also praised our efforts, as people were usually shy in taking up such social causes. Within half an hour, all legal formalities were completed.

When I got back home, all the people who knew about it complimented me and said that I had done a good job. I told them that inspite of knowing about the lady and how she had been there for twenty days, they didn't bother to do anything about it. If anything had to be done for the society, an ordinary citizen could do the task with a little effort and desire to help the person concerned.

(written by Shinu:)

Sent from BlackBerry® on Airtel


captainjohann said...

God bless you Pramila.

Anonymous said...

Pramila ,thank you for the person you are and helping this lady .

Mr sethi