One fine morning, the students of Sree Narayana HSS, Ayyappankavu, Kochi gathered with a huge pile of old newspapers that they had been collecting for a few months. As the academic year approached a close, they wanted to sell the old newspapers and use the money for a little fun and frolic. However, their plans soon took a noble turn and the young minds decided they wanted to use it for a better cause. And this is just what they ended up doing. The students gave away these piles of newspapers to Sreekaram, an organisation that provides financial assistance to cancer and kidney patients in the city. The exercise turned out to be an eye-opener for the children when volunteers from the organisation reached their school, interacted with them and told them about the organisation and the cause it stands for, before they took away the newspaper piles. This whole process is part of a novel venture by the organisation which involves collecting old newspapers to support people in need of medical assistance.
It all began about four months ago when a class X student approached Sreekaram for support for treatment of throat cancer. “We had our hands full already. We really wanted to help the child but had no clue how we could pool in the money. That is when another student came up with this idea of collecting newspapers,” says R Prakash, president of Sreekaram. From then on, there was no stopping them. The volunteers would go and pick up old newspapers from schools and other educational institutions and homes. So far, they have four schools in the city which contribute to the cause. “The idea clicked wonderfully. When people hear about this, they give us a call and we go pick up the papers. We didn’t expect this to be such a great success,” adds Prakash. He wishes to pass on the message to other institutions so that they could use the old newspapers for a ‘noble’ cause, like the students of the SNHSS.
“Often the newspapers get wasted away in school after the students finish reading it. They may spread it over the table while they have lunch or just play around with it. However, this is a positive way of using it. More schools and students should also be encouraged to partake in this,” says Nanditha, a teacher with the school.
Prakash, 65,who is the brain behind the organisation, is a kidney patient who undergoes two dialysis sessions every week.
It was in 2009 that Prakash had the idea of setting up the organisation. It was his own life experience that led him into this. He was hospitalised owing to a kidney disorder and was confined to a wheelchair. “ I faced a lot of hardships during that time. It gave me a feel of how things really are out there and the struggle that people have to put up with when they are down with an illness. This was the real push that brought me to the idea of Sreekaram,” he reminisces. Over four years later, the organisation has made more than a start with 100 members, including retired professionals and youth and 70 stations in Kochi and its outskirts. The Sreekaram office, located on a sleepy street in Mattancherry, brings hope to many today. The organisation which assists patients with money for chemotherapy and dialysis sessions has a monthly requirement of `30,000 solely for this project. “We would require about 3 tonnes of newspapers per month to meet our requirements. Now we get about 1.25 tonnes per month,” says Prakash.
The organisation also arranges for a makeshift clinic on two days a week in the premises of the Mullakal temple. Apart from providing free medical check-ups and laboratory tests, the organisation distributes free medicines after consultation. They have about 700 regular patients. Their other projects include Pakalveedu (Day Home), a nine-to-five home for senior citizens to gather around and interact. Sreekaram also provides breakfast everyday for around 40 people at the temple.
Get in touch with the organisation at 8289831649 or 9388413238.