When Father Biju Joseph Mathew came to Snehadaan, seven years ago, his vision was clear - to elevate humanity selflessly. Today, even though he is not getting any support from the government, this 35-year-old along with his team, has brought smiles to about 120 children in the age group of 2-10 years and 35 terminally ill patients at Snehadaan, a charitable trust.
Providing holistic care at his facility in Bangalore, recently he has initiated a candle making unit named Shine on. "Only the HIV+ but yet not AIDS victims adult patients are involved in the candle making enterprise. Recently, we started a new centre near Krishnagiri for housing young adults. The candle making enterprise will serve as a vocational training centre for them in future," said Biju.
His selfless service is evident when he says that the initiative is as a result of volunteers from all religions and even non-believers who come and help in the mission. "We actively seek theirs ideas and inputs on various matters. Since the government funding for supporting HIV /AIDS patients was stopped due to a technical reclassification of AIDS care, we approached our volunteers for help in brainstorming alternative methods of funding our activity. The suggestion regarding making candles came from a group of volunteers who visited us from the Koramangala Methodist Church. At present, most of the inmates are undergoing training from the volunteers/ experts," he said.
Candle making activity happens throughout the year and focus more during festivals and occasion. "We focus on making decorative and scented candles ideal for special occasions such as festivals, weddings, birthdays and parties. These candles come in a range of colours and shapes suited to the occasion. Since it is the Christmas season, we are making candles shaped like Christmas trees, Floral balls, flowers, etc., which can be used for decorating homes. We launched this enterprise only two months ago. Since then we have made over 3000 decorative candles and sold over 2500 of them," explained Biju.
According to Biju, the HIV patience do not face any exceptional challenges in making candles. "There are no machines used in our unit. We however use specialised hand tools and moulds sourced from different parts of the world. That way we make sure that our products are of superior quality. We have volunteers who come and help us overcome the technical challenges in making and maintaining quality for the candle making unit," he says.