While some of them clapped every few minutes and became restless with all the anticipation, there were many more getting ready for a big evening: at the 23 anniversary celebrations of Anbalayam, a home for mentally ill, students from special schools Mattram and Hope presented a range of performances that brought out the positive effects timely intervention could have on the mentally challenged.

Present at the celebrations was Prabhu Solomon, director of recently released film Kumki. “Anbalayam does not support mentally-ill persons from within Tiruchi alone, but also from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh and they could always use some help,” he said.

Mr.Solomon gifted Senthil Kumar, founder, Anbalayam with a cheque for Rs.50,000 to help kick-start the setting up of a special home for the mentally-ill and exhorted everyone to donate towards the cause. “Real wealth is the memory of the service we do to society and modest contributions and collective efforts can go a long way in helping social workers.” Talking about his unusual story lines, Mr.Solomon said, “I love travelling and whenever I see something that reaches out to me I try and make an earnest film out of it.” Prof.G.Balakrishnan, who taught Mr.Solomon and Mr.Senthil when they were students at St. Joseph’s College, remarked that, “Senthil showed a compassionate streak even as a student and has managed to remain true to his ideals for over two decades now.” He also congratulated Mr.Solomon for his success. Christie Subathra, principal, Crea Matriculation School, called upon Anbalayam to spearhead an integrated mental health programme for schools to strengthen mental health of our society in the future.

The special children from Mattram and Hope staged a variety of performances such as solo and group dance and yoga demonstrations among others.