‘Thanal’, a charitable organisation in Perumpuzha set up to help those in need of assistance. I first heard about it during the floods that caused havoc in Kerala last year. They collected and distributed clothes and non perishable items for those who were affected. Most people, especially those who lived abroad collected funds and sent it to the Chief Minister’s disaster fund. How much of the millions that went into the fund actually reached the intended recipients is still a mystery. Whereas with Thanal, we know that everything that was collected was promptly distributed.
A week ago, I get a phone call asking if I could attend a function they are conducting when I am in India. I am not sure what is expected of me. Jagath, my cousin who is the Chairman of the charity, tells me that I just need to be there and talk for a couple of minutes. I can do that, or so I thought. It turns out that they are conducting a free medical camp in collaboration with Kims Hospital in Kollam and for the inaugural function they are planning to commend people from three different walks of life. One from the medical field, another from the food industry and the third from education. I fitted the bill for the medical person.
The day of the function dawns and I get ready. They are picking me up. As time approaches I realise that the nine o clock start is Indian nine am and could be at any time after that. Sarath picks me up and apologises. The Kims medical team is delayed and being the first such function they are arranging, everyone is on tenterhooks. At the Perumpuzha M G U P school, Sarath introduces me to the physician who is leading the medical camp.
The function gets underway. The lamp is lit and the fan switched off. A sweltering hot day and the heat from the lamp adds to it, but I don’t mind. The speeches get underway. I have my short Malayalam speech ready. Something Murali wrote for me. What can possibly go wrong? One of the ladies then puts the spanner in the works by saying that I will give advice about leading a healthy life. So now not only am I being introduced as this famous doctor but also everyone is waiting for me to give a big speech and that too in Malayalam. My turn comes and I do the speech I have prepared. Public speaking is not one of my strongest points. My talk finishes too soon. I come clean and tell those who have gathered that I have never done a speech in Malayalam before and so will not be able to give an impromptu talk on health issues and thank them for having me.
They distribute the cheques to the needy. I am asked to hand out one. My palms are wet from the sweat and the cheque falls from my grip. How clumsy can I get, but this is me. Nothing ever goes according to plan when I am involved. My Mr Bean moments are something I cannot prepare for, but this message is not about me but the admirable work done by the members of the ‘Thanal’ team.
As one of the guest speakers mentioned, the name itself speaks volumes. An organisation that provides relief and support to those who are struggling. From their leaflet I see that their phone number is reachable 24/7. They’ve even managed to secure a means of transport to provide free transfer for those who need urgent medical care. A group of dynamic youngsters who are giving up their time and money to help those who otherwise wouldn’t get the necessary help they need. A place of comfort and shelter as the name suggests. The medical camp is busy as I make my way downstairs to catch my lift back home. A group of physicians, paediatricians and surgeons offering free advice and treatment.
I am not worthy of the honour bestowed upon me, but feel proud to know that the youngsters in my village are making the effort to give back to the community that raised them. Let the rays of hope they provide bring relief to all those who seek the shade of their services.