Thursday, December 3, 2015

Making Kozhikode city of compassion: Deccan Chronicle

Kozhikode: Aggregation. That’s the new mantra of the corporate world. From Google to Uber, they have discovered that you don’t need to own up things to do business. You offer people a platform to share their wares, and abracadabra, wealth is created. 

The Kozhikode district administration under an imaginative and dynamic collector has also discovered the power of aggregation. But the difference here is, it does not aggregate products or services, but compassion of the people. And the wealth it creates is instantly shared. 

Anyone who has ever visited Kozhikode would vouch for the compassion of its people. Now, the city has chosen to call itself Compassion-ate Kozhikode, and has designed schemes to merit the name.

It all started when the newly-appointed district collector N Prasanth put up a post on the official Facebook page of District administration on March 16, 2015 after visiting the Government Mental Health Centre at Kuthiravattam in his capacity as district magistrate.

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It was pathetic, he said in the post, and more shocking was the lack of essential materials. He put out a list of 22 materials which included cots, bed pans, pillows, mugs, buckets and even nail cutters. The FB post requested people help in kind. No cash, thank you. 

“The response was tremendous, and we hot more than what we wanted,” said Mohammed Abdu Rahman, the then store superintendent of the hospital.

“And the more welcome was the change in attitude towards the mental care centre. More people and organisations came forward to launch their activities here.”

The district administration which tasted success with the first project launched more under an umbrella banner: Compassionate Kozhikode.

At present, project CK includes 17 initiatives that seek to touch the lives of the needy, and give the City of Truth and Spices another address — The City of Compassion.

“CK is based on crowd sourcing for making people’s lives better,” said Mr Prasanth, the collector. “It may be a small service for many but it can make a big impact on others. We have got a good team of volunteers and agencies for effectively running the project.”

The administration is looking for services alone from the people; it involves no direct money transactions. For some, there is provision for people to make donations.

The project has roped in the goodwill of individuals and organisations, and their yearning for social service. It is more than a charity programme where the beneficiaries are only the needy.

Instead, it is designed in such a way that those who are contributing for the cause have the reason to be happy about what they do.

Operation Sulaimani, the project that ensures that anyone who needs a meal in Kozhikode gets it, no questions asked, is one such scheme.

“We were apprehensive of the viability of Opera-tion Sulaimani when the collector presented it,” says Kerala Hotels and Restaurants Association (KHRA) district secretary Mohammed Suhail. “However, he heard our doubts patiently, addressed them perfectly, and made us confident,” he said.

There are still a few complications, but the programme is running effectively. “It gives us immense pleasure to be part of such a wonderful programme,” he said. People makes voluntary contributions for the sustenance of the project.

Pain and Palliative Care Technical Advisor Dr Suresh Kumar, who is closely associated with the project, is of the opinion that CK is a project to nurture compassion in all citizens.

“The real beneficiary, from the CK point of view, is the person who is able to listen to the voice of compassion within him and to donate time or items,” he said.
Given an opportunity, most people are able to bring the goodness within them to fore, Dr Suresh Kumar said. “Compassionate Kozhikode has reaffirmed this. The number of people showing interest is quite large and the interest has been steadily going up,” he added.

The District Collector’s Internship programme participants are also actively take part in running the CK. “The experience and learning  I got from CK during my internship in the last four months are more than what I acquired from my life before joining it,” said Raseena V, an engineering graduate.

“The collector involves us in the discussions and gives room for our ideas, too. It is really encouraging. I would in fact want my internship extended for a few more months.”

The mother of a beneficiary under CK’s Education Scholarship programme has a story to narrate: “My son faced no financial difficulties till seventh standard as his father used to take care of him. But all of a sudden, he got paralysed and we sold whatever we had for his treatment and there was nothing left for my son’s education. I then requested the collector for help. He arranged a scholarship for my son through CK. Now my son is studying the way he wanted to with new books and cloths.”

Project CK uses the power of electronic and social media such as Facebook to the hilt. Its website regularly puts areas where voluntary services are required. The Facebook page ‘Collector, Kozhikode’ has nearly 1.5 lakh likes; the administration get regular responses, suggestions and ideas on the page.

Author: Harigovind

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