“Generosity and compassion keep the sick smiling,” says a small band of volunteers who run the Koyilandy Pain and Palliative Care Society.
For the last 20 months, a team of volunteers working under the banner of the society is engaged in a programme aimed at mitigating the sufferings of patients afflicted with painful and deadly diseases like cancer.
They have support from local doctors, housewives, taxi drivers and headload workers in the endeavour, without financial support from the government or its agencies.
Besides caring for the terminally ill, the society is supporting families of these patients.
T.K. Muhammed Younus, secretary of the Koilandy Pain and Palliative Care Society, recalls how it all began: “For nearly three years, we had been hearing heartrending stories of families which were in distress since the breadwinners of families were bedridden with crippling diseases.”
“I knew about the commendable job in this field being done by the Pain and Palliative Care Society in Kozhikode and its Director Dr. Suresh Kumar. We wanted to replicate it in our place. For want of resources to launch a major programme, we started looking after five patients in Koyilandy. There were only four of us to work as volunteers and our activity was restricted to one panchayat.”
“Now, we are able to look after nearly 600 patients in five panchayats in the Koyilandy taluk and municipality with the help of 360 volunteers. And more importantly lots of goodwill.”
The movement has evoked considerable public support. The supporters include staff of police station; headload workers; Koyilandi chapter of the Indian Medical Association; Rotary Club; Lions Club; Jaycees Club; parallel colleges; and places of worship.
Impressed by the success of the movement, the Health Department provided a “care ward” in the taluk hospital.
The society arranges house visit by a doctor accompanied by a team of volunteers every Wednesday and Saturday. More important is the psychological support they provide to the patient’s families.
The movement has evoked so much enthusiasm and compassion that those who cannot afford to donate money, donate one handful of rice every day; many have come forward to undergo training to work as volunteers; a few others provide free transport services to take patients from their homes to hospitals and back for treatment; some others chime in with free fuel for these vehicles; and there are a few hoteliers who give free food to the volunteers.
Meanwhile, support for the movement comes from far and near. A few like film director Lal Jose have visited Koyilandi for a first hand feel of the functioning of the society. Words of encouragement are sent to the society’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
R. Madhavan Nair