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Reuniting the lost ones

india Updated: Feb 04, 2008 01:00 IST
C Sujit Chandra Kumar
C Sujit Chandra Kumar
Hindustan Times
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Back in 1999, Pastor KM Philip found a man lying on the over bridge at Parel station, covered with dirt and his own excreta. Not only did Philip look after the man – Balchandra Sarvate, who was suffering from amnesia – but managed to reunite him with his wife and relatives after tracing them.

The latest in the list of people that Philip helped reunite with their families was Sabu Ahmed, a mentally challenged youth from Kerala, who was found begging near Panvel. Ahmed was the 100th person to return to his family by the efforts of Social and Evangelical Association for Love (SEAL), a non-governmental organisation founded by Philip.

At Vangani village, near Panvel, SEAL has a little more than 100 inmates who have nowhere to go. While some are mentally challenged, others are HIV positive. The organisation came into being when Philip was forced to leave several housing societies for bringing home dirty and ailing orphans. His efforts at Vangani too had met with resistance. Villagers had thrashed Philip when the came to know that
his organization would house HIV positive people.

Though 39-year-old Philip belongs to the Pentecostal church, he insists that SEAL is an independent body with no allegiance to any institution. “We have never asked anyone for assistance.

Often, there is no money to even buy rice. But donations arrive at the right time so that we can continue our work,” he said. “We don’t accept anything from those we help.”

Philip himself was a rebellious youngster. Hailing from Ranni, near Kottayam in Kerala, he angered his devout parents by smoking, drinking and joining the student’s wing of a leftist party. He even ran away from home a few times. He claims he was a confused individual till he found the real calling in his life – helping others and showing them the way.