Organic veggies by ex-mental hospital inmates to hit Onam markets

Housed in State Mental Hospital (SMH) in Oolampara earlier, the inmates were brought to the care home after their families refused to accept them back even though they were completely cured.
An inmate at Shradha Care Home run by the Thiruvananthapuram district panchayat tending to the vegetable garden he and his colleagues set up at Venjarammoodu in Thiruvananthapuram.
An inmate at Shradha Care Home run by the Thiruvananthapuram district panchayat tending to the vegetable garden he and his colleagues set up at Venjarammoodu in Thiruvananthapuram.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: This Onam is extra special for 18 inmates of Shradha Care Home, a facility run by the Thiruvananthapuram district panchayat at Venjarammoodu. For, the organic vegetables that they planted at the facility hit the market soon for sale during the festival season. The men, all aged between 40 and 60 years, had planted the vegetables, including bitter gourd, ladies finger, long beans, brinjal, cucumber, salad cucumber, green chilly, different plantain, red lady papaya and Vietnam super early jackfruit, at the home as part of their horticultural therapy.

Housed in State Mental Hospital (SMH) in Oolampara earlier, the inmates were brought to the care home after their families refused to accept them back even though they were completely cured. Besides horticultural therapy, the inmates also engage in fish farming, poultry farming and cattle rearing at the care home sprawling 2 acres. The activities are overseen by agriculture department official K G Binulal.In fact, last year, they generated Rs 4.5 lakh from the sale of vegetables, milk and eggs, after meeting their requirements.

At the end of every day, the inmates earn an incentive of 1% from the produce they sell, mostly to people in the neighbourhood. When asked what he does with his day’s incentive, a 45-year-old inmate told TNIE, “I love eating good food. I am extremely happy here doing everything from cleaning the cattle shed to tending to the vegetable garden,” said the inmate, an Adoor native. “I have 10 brothers and a sister. None want me back,” he said.

S Sabarinathan, project manager of the horticultural therapy being provided at the home, said the Adoor native is completely cured and does almost every work. Sabarinathan said they were able to send eight inmates back to their families, under the ‘Back Home’ project. “It was a moment of great pride and satisfaction for us,” he said.

Meanwhile, Thiruvananthapuram district panchayat president D Suresh Kumar told TNIE that several new projects would be started at the home. They included setting up a bio-gas plant, solar panel, as well as a rain shelter where 1,000 vegetable seedlings would be planted and later sold. 

Vilappil Radhakrishnan, chairman of the panchayat’s welfare standing committee said 25 more inmates from the mental hospital, who were completely cured, will be brought to the care home. “We do not impose anything on the inmates. They don;t have to meet any targets. The produce are put up for sale after meeting the home’s requirements,” Radhakrishnan said, adding that doctors from Vamanapuram public health centre and Gokulam Medical College, Venjarammoodu, conduct medical checkups at the home every month.

Added attraction
The inmates are looking forward for Thiruvonam, when they would be joined by actor Suraj Venjarammoodu for Onsadya at the care home. Suraj, who lives nearby, calls on the inmates whenever he comes to his house. Moreover, the inmates will, for the first time in their life, take a flight to Kochi, where they will go on a cruise, and take a ride in the Metro, before returning to Thiruvananthapuram by train.

REJECTED BY FAMILIES

Housed in State Mental Hospital (SMH) in Oolampara earlier, the inmates were brought to the care home after their families refused to accept them back even though they were completely cured

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