The compassion for the suffering of a fellow being is in essence what palliative care is all about," M.R. Rajagopal, chairman of Pallium India, said.

When Lija stood up on her feet on Wednesday and rendered the prayer song, the prayers and blessings of a thousand well-wishers were with her, whose compassion and empathy had made it possible for this young girl, who had been bedridden for the past six years, to face life with a smile again.

And it was Lija’s prayer song that set the mood for the function organised by Pallium India on Wednesday, on the occasion of the formal inauguration of the Trivandrum Institute of Palliative Sciences (TIPS) as the WHO Collaborating Centre for Training and Policy on Access to Pain Relief.

To those who know about palliative care as something that is meant only for the terminally ill, Lija’s story amply demonstrates how palliative care is about taking care of someone in pain, holding his/her hand and helping them walk through life.

“Lija is with us today and smiling, thanks to the empathy and kindness shown to this girl by a group of schoolchildren of Holy Angels ISC School at Nanthencode, who raised funds to the tune of Rs. 2 lakh. This compassion for the suffering of a fellow being is in essence what palliative care is all about,” M.R. Rajagopal, chairman of Pallium India, said.

Lija is the youngest in her family of four girls. She used to work as a salesgirl in a boutique till she was crippled by rheumatoid arthritis six years ago. Because of excruciating pain, she spent her days either in bed or bound to a wheelchair. Her father, a manual labourer, raised money from all sources to treat his youngest child but mounting debts apart, there was no improvement in Lija’s condition.

The plight of this young, bubbly girl who seemed resigned to spend the rest of her life bound to a wheelchair was what prompted the medical officer at the Vattappara primary health centre to contact Pallium India.

“Pallium India’s volunteers and doctors became my link to the outside world. They provided medicines and money and helped me cling on to the hope that someday I could walk again,” says Lija.

The services offered by Pallium India and Lija’s case in particular, was brought to the attention of the former Principal of Holy Angels ISC School Sr. Linis Noronha, who wanted her students to take up a worthy cause during the school’s charity fund-raising week.

Over Rs. 2 lakh collected by the students was handed over to Dr. Rajagopal and with some additional funds raised by Pallium India, Lija underwent knee replacement surgery last month. With physiotherapy, she should be up and running in no time, doctors said.

A memento, in appreciation of this humanitarian cause, was presented to the school by Union Defence Minister A.K. Antony at the function.

Keywords: Pallium India