33 year old Suresh, his wife, their two small children, his parents, his younger brother, his wife and young child all stay together. They live near to the Medical College campus on the outskirts of Vellore City in their own house, constructed on unauthorised land. Water is delivered to their home by a water tanker, then pumped into a tank on the roof of the house. The family has never had much money. Suresh was sent out to work even before completing primary school. He found jobs on construction sites, gradually becoming skilled as a mason.
Drawn by the prospect of well-paid work, Suresh went to work in Chennai. Then disaster struck. While working on a building, he fell from the third storey. Health and safety rules were ignored, as so often is the case. He lost the use of his legs and became doubly incontinent. He was admitted to a private hospital in Chennai. His mother, brother and wife all came to be with him. After two weeks in that hospital, with no improvement, the builder who had employed him, sent him back to his home in Vellore by car. Suresh was left just lying at home.
One day, staff from the Community Health Department and the Rehabilitation Institute, affectionately known as Rehab, were making a home visit to another person living nearby. They visited Suresh, after neighbours told them about him. They saw his need and quickly admitted him to Rehab. There followed weeks of skilled treatment and care from the team at Rehab – doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and social workers. Suresh had lost all confidence and was very depressed. The staff tried to motivate him. When the time came for his discharge, he should have gone to the Mary Verghese Trust (MVT), situated opposite Rehab. Here he could acquire new job skills, learn to be independent and gain confidence. But he did not want to be without his family, as all trainees at MVT need to be. So after two months in Rehab, he was discharged.
Suresh was followed up at home and finally he agreed to go to MVT for a six month course in tailoring, as he couldn’t continue to work as a mason. He was still depressed, unsure of himself and even attempted suicide. Gradually with the care and perseverance of staff and support of other patients he became self-assured, a leader in the Centre. He was prominent in the Christmas programmes, playing Santa Claus, and in the Mela (the festival held in Rehab every February). When interviewed he was full of smiles.
The cost of Suresh’s treatment and rehabilitation came to £850; a sum way beyond the means of his family. He had not worked since his accident. His wife was at home, looking after their little ones. His father, once a goatherd, due to his current poor health was no longer working. Only his mother was employed as a maid at a nearby canteen, earning £25 per month. Staff at Rehab were not deterred by this, but treated him freely, helped by a donation from the PTP Fund. Suresh will need a wheelchair and a sewing machine to set up as a tailor. Other benefactors have come forward to supply these needs.
CMC staff and well-wishers have been privileged to be able to bring help and hope to one more needy family.