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Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

Deranged, abandoned, there’s hope yet with Smile in Gorakhpur

Smile Home is a first-of-its-kind orphanage, shelter home-cum-treatment centre for such abandoned, mentally ill persons.

lucknow Updated: Jun 27, 2019 16:03 IST
Abdul Jadid
Abdul Jadid
Hindustan Times, Gorakhpur
Volunteers serving food at the centre.
Volunteers serving food at the centre.(HT Photo)

“You can find many mentally challenged people on streets or at the Gorakhpur railway station. In most cases, these are people who have been abandoned by their family members, either after failing to get them treated for financial reasons or due to their inability to cope with them”.

Those are the words of Azad Pandey, who leads the NGO, Smile Home.

Smile Home is a first-of-its-kind orphanage, shelter home-cum-treatment centre for such abandoned, mentally ill persons. It is being run by the NGO Smile Roti Bank Trust, which earlier used to run Roti Bank for station children.

The district administration supports it by providing medicines and treatment of inmates, Smile Home provides meals twice a day to inmates, besides giving them medicine, full time care and post-treatment counselling. A government psychiatrist Amit Shahi offers free medical services and visits the home weekly.

Currently, 100 such abandoned patients are undergoing treatment at the centre. Many of them, having not bathed for years are affected by skin ailments or have wounds and sores on the body. The dedicated team members who bring them back to normality, with a lot of love and attention, also give them regular baths, give them haircuts, trim their beard, cut their nails and put clean clothes on them.

“In other cases, we found that mentally challenged persons, belonging to well-off families, are not treated deliberately, to avoid giving a share in property,” said Pandey, citing the case of a Varansi-based bidi manufacturer who was found in mentally deranged on a street. “From his possession we found folded and rotten currency notes of denomination of 100,” he added.

The team, which has won several accolades for its work, recently launched a separate orphanage-cum-treatment centre for mentally challenged, abandoned women. The orphanage, Matra Chhaya, was inaugurated jointly by DM Vijyendra Pandian and SP crime on Monday.

Smile Home, established in 2017, has so far treated, healed and reunited over 20 abandoned or missing mentally ill persons with their families. Their patients – including five women – were from UP, Bihar and even from South India. The latest one was Kailash of Chhapra, Bihar. In April, Kailash was handed over to his wife and son after due formalities and two months of treatment and care, in the presence of the DM and other officials.

A team from the shelter home patrols the town in a van regularly to look out for persons who may be in need of care. These are picked up for treatment, said Azad Pandey, who leads the NGO. Members of the general public too can get in touch with the home by calling them directly or visiting them. “For awareness, we have also put up posters at public places,” Azad said.

Inviting members of the public to be a part of their effort, Pandey said, “Smile Roti Bank Trust is a 80-G registered NGO and hence, any donation made to it will be exempt from taxes,” adding that donors may contact them at 9454641501 or its office in Gorakhnath area. He mentioned ration items, clothes and medicines as the items they need the most.

First Published: Jun 27, 2019 16:03 IST

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