Thursday, October 3, 2013

Campaign against alcohol: CM receives 4 lakh post cards from distressed women and children

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy with representatives of Santhwanam, a centre for distressed women and children, with the letters written by school students, in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday | Manu R Mavelil
Post cards bearing heart-rending experiences, all on the ruinous effect of alcoholism in families. They were mostly written by children, and many found it the best way to give vent to their deep frustrations.
In small bundles, the post cards made way to the newly-built visitors’ station next to the north gate of Secretariat. Four lakh such cards addressed to him were received by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy himself on Wednesday during the inaugural of the visitors’ station.
The cards were brought here by Santhwanam, a centre for distressed women and children at Kottayam, as part of ‘Jwala 2013’, an initiative against alcoholism.
“No one knows about the sufferings of women and children in families with alcoholic men. The next generation should be free from it,” said Annie Babu, managing trustee of Santhwanam. After submitting the cards, they requested the Chief Minister to include in the school curriculum lessons on the ill-effects of alcoholism from standard 4 to 10.
For the past six years, Santhwanam has been conducting programmes against the use of narcotics, alcohol and abusive substances. “We visited more than 700 educational institutions from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasargod to distribute the post cards. The children were given enough time to return it and for that we visited the places again,” said Pooja Pushpan, a representative of Santhwanam. Both girls and boys alike wrote about their lives on the cards. From domestic violence to incest, the cards contained shocking incidents happening in families.
Carrying the cards, 77 inmates of Santhwanam travelled all the way to the city from Kottayam to submit them to the Chief Minister. They comprised women and children from eight states in India; Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Nagaland and Assam. On receiving the memorandum from the representatives of Santhwanam, Chandy said that it was befitting that the cards were submitted on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanthi, as Mahatma Gandhi himself was a foremost campaigner against alcoholism.
“In order to make the state alcohol-free, awareness programmes need to be strengthened,” said Chandy. He handed over the memorandum submitted by the visitors to Chief Secretary E K Bharat Bhushan, who was also present on the occasion.
 The Chief Secretary said that after holding discussions with the departments concerned, he would prepare a report. The girls, who accompanied the team, later presented a dance performance to create awareness against alcoholism at the museum.

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