AGAPE BHAVAN, CHERPUNKAL

AGAPE BHAVAN AT CHERPUNKAL

INTRODUCTION

Agape Bhavan is one of the regional centres of the Kottayam Social Service Society (KSSS) situated in the Cherpunkal village of the Meenachil Taluk in the Kottayam District of Kerala State, India. Bhavan in Malayalam, the local language in Kerala, means home. As the word Agape suggests, the centre seeks to serve the Self Help Group members of KSSS and the villagers of Cherpunkal, as a place for promoting harmony, peace and selfless­love.

The Agape Bhavan was presented to KSSS and Cherpunkal as a gift by Rev. Fr. Abraham Mutholath. This benevolent offering was made on the occasion of completing 25 years of his priestly ordination. The blessing and inaugural ceremony of the Centre was held on 2nd January, 2006. Fr. Abraham Mutholath who hails from Cherpunkal Sts. Peter and Paul parish, had also served as Secretary of the Kottayam Social Service Society for six years.

PURPOSE OF AGAPE BHAVAN

- To ensure equal opportunities and fullest participation of the SHG members especially differently abled members of the KSSS.

- To conduct various awareness and training programmes for the village people for their holistic development.

- To promote various life-skill practices among the differently abled and thereby ensure self-reliance.

- To give awareness to the parents regarding the care and remedial measures to prevent disability.

- To serve as a vocational training institute for the differently abled

ACTIVITIES AT THE AGAPE BHAVAN

1. VILLAGE CENTRE FOR SELF HELP GROUP MEMBERS

It is a centre for all Self Help Groups fostered by Kottayam Social Service Society to gather, attend seminars and other training programmes. The Self Help Group members get an opportunity to join various income generation activities and thereby achieve additional income for their economic stability, through the trainings imparted here. The regional centre has separate office rooms for administration purposes.

2.           REGIONAL TRAINING CENTRE OF KSSS

The centre also serves as a platform for conducting various awareness trainings and other training programmes at the regional and central level.

3.           VOCATIONAL & REHABILITATION TRAINING CENTRE FOR THE DISABLED

For the sustainable integral development of the Differently abled, Kottayam Social Service Society implements various innovative programmes in the society through its Community Based Rehabilitation programme. Along with these programmes special focus is also paid to arrange institutionalized practices for the differently abled. Thus, the Agape Bhavan concentrates considerably for integral development of the Differently abled through various trainings.

The Differently abled students who undergo training in this centre are members of SHGs promoted by KSSS as part of the Community Based Rehabilitation Programme. The admission for the disabled students to this centre is through a process of identification by village staff. After the selection process regular academic training is provided at this centre with close supervision. In the Agape Home there are expert trainers giving various trainings to the Differently abled for their integral development. Mainly the trainers provide medical services like Physiotherapy, Speech Therapy and various Life-skill practices. In these trainings we include classes for the parents also so as to help them better handle their children with more awareness on the disability aspects. At the same time, the trainers conduct periodical house visits to the students and maintain good rapport with their family.

Besides physical training, different vocational trainings are also arranged for their economic stability. The vocational training includes Book Production, paper bag making, screen printing, cover making and binding unit functions in this centre. In addition to this, there is a small agricultural nursery unit functioning along with this center and this promotes the practice of eco-friendly living and by selling the products they can secure an income. These provide opportunities for income generation to the disabled members and also to the neighboring villagers.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Fr. Abraham Mutholath bought the land for Agape Bhavan and constructed a building for it and donated to Kottayam Social Service Society, the Social Service Department of the Archdiocese of Kottayam on the occasion of the 25 anniversary of his priestly ordination.

First a classroom was constructed for the initial functioning of the institution. A Day Care Center for the mentally and physically disabled children was started on August 16, 2004. There were only four children at the initial stage. Eventually the number of students and activities have increased to 26. Transpiration facility is arranged to bring students from their homes and to drop them back in the evenings.

There is an assembly held for the students every day and a yoga session for three quarters of an hour. The students are divided into three classes and training is imported according to their mental capacity along with physiotherapy. In the afternoon session a prayer is followed by classes on, Moral science, Personality development and Cultural activities. Vocational trainings like cover making, bookbinding, making of handicrafts is provided on two of the days.

Classes and seminars are arranged for teachers every month. C.R.C (Case Review Committee) meetings were held twice every month. Case history and Individual training methods were discussed in that meeting. Seminars are also conducted for parents and siblings of these students. Once in three months PTA (Parents Teachers Association) meeting is conducted to plan and evaluate the school activities.

Considering the need for more rooms, second stage of construction was started on June 30, 2005. The blessing and inauguration of the completed building of Agape Bhavan was held along with Silver Jubilee of priestly ordination of Fr. Abraham Mutholath was held on January 2, 2006. The 39 cents of land along with Agape Bhavan was officially handed over to KSSS during this function.