Inspirations: Santhosh Joseph, 42

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Photo: Jobychen Pala

Good Samaritan

Pala, Kerala

By Jeemon Jacob

In 13 years, Santhosh Joseph has provided shelter to more than 2,000 mentally challenged people at his home in Pala in Kottayam, Kerala. A matriculate, Joseph is the perfect example of how one does not need to be highly qualified or very rich to make a difference. The local community has supported his initiative by giving food and donating money for medicines. Like all things big, this too started with one man. “On 14 March 1998, I saw a man wandering aimlessly on the streets. I took him home and gave him food. Thus, Thomas became our first guest,” Joseph recalls. “And that was the beginning of Mariasadanam — a home for the mentally challenged.” What started as a re-modelled cow shed is now a four-storey complex housing 270 inmates abandoned by their families. Joseph, who has done a course in effective care for the mentally challenged from NIMHANS, Bengaluru, spends more than Rs 40,000 a day on the institution. He has also floated a drama troupe of the inmates. Mariasadanam Orchestra, as it is known, has staged 200 shows across Kerala. “We have earned a place in the Limca Book of Records as the only music troupe comprising mentally challenged persons,” he says proudly.

Joseph can be contacted at +91 94470 25767.

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