They earn an average of Rs 12,000 per month – they’re not ‘highly paid’ by any standards. But the employees of Ashwini Hospital in Kerala’s Thrissur have hearts much larger than their paychecks. The employees’ association of the hospital has started an initiative called ‘Zest of Life’, through which they have built of a house for a tribal family, funded dialysis for scores of patients, and are even providing groceries to poor families every month.
Speaking to TNM about the initiative, Anoop, one of the coordinators of the programme says that a one-time activity to help a homeless family gradually grew into an initiative.
“A journalist friend of mine visited a tribal colony in rural Thrissur, and told me that there was a family that was living in a makeshift house made of sheets. For people like us, it is quite unbelievable to hear such stories, so I, along with a few other employees visited this colony,” Anoop, who has been working as an electrician at the hospital, tells TNM.
“To our horror, we found that this family that also had small children actually lived in a house made of sheets. When it rains, the family has to seek shelter under someone else’s roof,” he continues.
Disturbed by this, a few of us spoke to our employees’ association and decided to raise funds to build a house for this family. Two months later, we built them a house spending nearly Rs 1.5 lakh,” says Anoop.
After that, the group decided to continue helping those in need. They named their initiative ‘Zest of Life’ – and have been helping the poor for six months now. The group also started funding the dialysis treatment of one patient every day. So far, they have helped in 65 such cases, Anoop says.
From electricians to attenders to nurses and doctors along with other administerial staff, ‘Zest of Life’ has as many as 35 active members. While the employees association has nearly 800 members, who contribute financially to the initiative, the work is carried out mainly by 35 of them.
Leo has been working as an attender at the hospital for the past 16 years, but this is the first time the employees have come together for a cause, he points out. For the staff whose average salaries amount to around Rs 12,000, many were wary about venturing into social causes before.
“That’s the power of a group…when one person wants to help someone, it may not always be possible owing to their low income. But when many people get together, there will be so many people who will get benefits from it,” Anoop says.
In the months to come, ‘Zest of Life’ hopes to register their group as a charity organisation and expand their activities across the district.