Friday, January 14, 2005

Under The Banyan Tree

In 1992, a crazed, nude woman ran up and down a Chennai street under the mid day sun. As people either gawked or walked on, two young women hugged her and took her to their college nearby. They cleaned her, clothed her and calmed her down. When they tried to find an organization in the city that would take the woman in, they realised how hard it was to find one. It was the defining moment for two young girls "VANDANA GOPIKUMAR & VAISHNAVI VIJAYAKUMAR".They formed "The Banyan" a home for mentally ill destitute women. Read more about there inspiring story here

I still remember that visit to my aunt's house in Mogappair.Me and my cousin were going to my aunt's house when i heard some strange sounds from a house on the way.When i enquired he said that it is "The Banyan" and that there are lot of mentally ill peoples there.That was the first time i heard about banyan and that was in the early 90's.I was dumb stuck when i read about the banyan and how Big this tree has grown. From those humble beginnings in the rented house to the new 2 crore building they have come a long way.

It's surprising to see how many people come together when it is a good cause.From jayalalitha jeyaram to vivek oberai.Here are few of the people who have supported the banyan.

The most hated woman in tamil nadu J.Jayalaitha was so impressed by "VANDANA GOPIKUMAR & VAISHNAVI VIJAYAKUMAR" work that she voluntarily called them and gave them a third of an acre in Chennai's suburbs to put up a modern facility.

The banyan is mainly supported by the "Ministry of Social Welfare" and "The Ratan Tata Trust"

Kendra Frazier an American married to Karsten Warnecke, the German Consul in Chennai, got involved with The Banyan after the death of her youngest son in February 2000.she has written a book Out Of Mind, Out Of Sight , which tells the stories of women who have lost their sanity when faced with extreme circumstances — grief, pain, sorrow, hurt.

If you are wondering whether vivek Oberai's adopting the tsunami hit village was an advertising blitz or a real humane effort. you should look at his involvement with The Banyan. He has been a constant supporter of the organization.
july 2004
oct 2003

check out more about The Banyan

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