Pocketed away in the Thiruporur Block a section of society exists, ostracized by many and looked after by few.
These are the people who so simply lead their lives with no complaints, but so desperately need our attention and help.
A small village exists in the Thiruporur Block, called Kovalam where many villagers face problems most of us are unaware of.
In the heart of this village is a Mosque, i.e. a Muslim temple where men and women- of any religion or race; be it a Hindu or a Christian or a Parsee turn to god to pray.
This place is not only just a place to pray but also where forgiveness is sought. Some of the Muslim saints are buried within this structure.
Another phenomenon which occurs in this Dargha is the presence of people who have literally lost all faith and hope in themselves and everything around them believe that by visiting this Dargha they will be relived of their pain. Many of these people believe that they have been possessed by an evil spirit.
Such people are the people who are facing; if not chronic but milder versions of mental illnesses.
Many of them wander inside the Dargha talking to themselves impromptu to the peculiar hallucinations and delusions that they hold.
For them escaping the voices and images in their head is a battle but they don’t know how to escape it.
Not only are these people found wandering within the Dargha but also healers who are believed to be people who possess the right knowledge to heal them of this ailment.
They thus are the cure to these strange mannerisms and are also found wandering within The Dargha.
There have been various techniques the healers have used to drive the evil spirit out of the body or liberate the soul. Many a time beating the patient till the evil spirit is believed to be released from the body, or hammering a nail in their forehead or even pulling out the hair of the patient are done. However these are not so common anymore. Exorcism rituals are practiced in many other manners to liberate the soul.
But, the real problem is not the villagers but the lack of facilities and amenities they are getting. Education is lacking in terms of the right type of awareness and knowledge in the village.
Most of the villagers face severe poverty and thus cannot afford to send their children to schools. Thus a web is created where the choice is “To Survive” or “Not to Survive.”
Earning wages are not so high and the chief source of income comes through the livelihood of the fishermen of the Block. To realize this and start spreading education in places where it is needed the most can prevent this backward standard of living. To cater to the health issues faced by the local villagers in Kovalam a health unit has been established close to The Dargha. This health-unit caters not only to the needs of mentally ill destitute women but also to that of mentally ill men as well. Thus there is a link between the Village Panchayat and the Health Center. Issues such as Primary Sanitation, Cleanliness, etc are dealt with between the Health Center and the Village panchayat. During the daytime both men and women who visit the Health Center engage in vocational training and activities. A doctor is available to offer his service to the Patients who visit throughout the day. Community Mental Health Program is a core aspect of the work of The Health Center. Here, actual home-visits are made to the patient’s house to fully understand where the patient is coming from, his background, lifestyles, etc. Thus investigations are made to understand the development of the mental disorder and how the right help can be received.
Having made a home visit I landed upon Patient X’s home in Kovalam. On interacting with his wife I was briefed about his case history and development of the illness he suffered from- Major Depression.
He had been suffering from this since the past five years. Having a family of 2 sons,1 daughter, his wife and himself Patient X lead a normal life before onset of illness. Not having enough money to send his sons to school they were sent off to a government hostile for schooling. Only his daughter remained with them, enrolled in an English medium government school. Working at a general store close to their home Patient X found his way to earn a livelihood. His daily routine was to work from early morning to night. His wife would pick him up from work daily at the same time of nine pm. Things changed gradually as Patient X began showing a change in behavior patterns. More withdrawal signs coupled with unhappiness; a phenomenon that occurred five years ago; when Patient X was only thirty years old. Little was spoken about this to his wife but all that was confirmed was a turnover in business with heavy losses. Having faced severe forms of depression from suicidal thoughts to prolonged states of sadness major depression was no easy thing to get through. However, on receiving the right kind of medication of right kind of help from The Health Center Patient X has overcome this