TAMIL NADU

From despair to hope… welcome metamorphosis

Ministers Thangam Thennarasu and Poongothai Aladi Aruna have a look at the dress materials designed by residents of the Banyan, in Chennai on Tuesday.

Ministers Thangam Thennarasu and Poongothai Aladi Aruna have a look at the dress materials designed by residents of the Banyan, in Chennai on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: K.V. Srinivasan

Staff Reporter

Two outlets launched as part of Banyan’s programme

CHENNAI: For V.P. Kannan, 15 years of work as a fashion designer in a tailoring unit, though not exciting, was enough to eke out a living. He dreamt of saving a part of his income to start a family. But soon he lost his job.

Doctors diagnosed him with mental illness. He was thrown out of the mansion on to the road, where he lay semi-conscious for over a month. But that was two years ago. Now Mr. Kannan is busy doling out pizzas, muffins and coffees to kids who queue up during lunch hour at Lady Andal Matriculation School. He even made a tidy Rs.5,000 as profit in a week.

“This is giving me a sense of self-worth, which I thought I would never get back,” said Mr. Kannan, who is one of the four residents of the Banyan employed at Bread Winners, a food joint opened at the school in tie-up with Oriental Cuisines.

Two others who were brought to the Banyan with mental illness along with Kannan are now adding aesthetics to the dresses at the Banyan Line, a designer outlet.

Bread Winners and Banyan Line are part of an initiative of Banyan’s Employment programme, which seeks to provide livelihood for its residents. The Banyan Centre launched the initiative on Tuesday, as a part of the organisation’s 16th anniversary celebrations.

Banyan Line, supported by designers Kamala Krishnaswamy and Jaya Pradeep, will train the residents in block and batik printing and fabric sketching.

Speaking at the launch, Minister of Information Technology Poongothai Aladi Aruna commended the initiatives of non-governmental organisations working for people with mental disabilities.

She urged the Banyan to reach out to rural masses.

Minister for School Education Thangam Thennarasu also spoke.

Banyan founder Vandana Gopakumar appealed to the Ministers to offer financial and administrative support for the organisation to run the District Mental Health Programme in Kancheepuram.

Recommended for you