Bethlehem bhavan is a model of psycho-social rehabilitation for men which was started in 2006 by Fr. Jins Vathallookunnel in Kanjirapally. There are around 100 residents in the institution.
In 1997, as a Parish Priest in Thampalakkadu parish, Fr. Sebastian Vechookarottu successfully rehabilitated 3 alcoholics through counselling, prayer and group therapy. This was the beginning of similar group exercises which steadily grew into a monthly program. Gradually the number of people attending these sessions increased and Emmanuel Ashram, a center for retreats, counselling and rehabilitation of drug addicts and alcoholics was born.
Simultaneously Fr. Sebastian observed that many people with psychiatric problems were abandoned on the streets. He brought them to a temporary shelter which functioned in rented premises and cared for them. This was the beginning of Penuel Ashram which came into existence in response to a crying need. By the end of 1998, the number of inmates increased and a permanent building was acquired. Now Penuel Ashram is a home – for mentally sick destitute. The Ashram provides shelter, food, clothing, medical aid, entertainment, counseling and rehabilitation services. It is a Centre offering love and care to the mentally ill, the abandoned streets and rejects of society. The volunteers pick up sick people from streets, bus stations, rail stations etc. All our services are offered free of cost to the beneficiaries.
NSA was started on 15th August 1998, under the leadership of Fr. Roy Mathew Vadakkel, on the 13 cents of land, donated by Mr. Vettathu Kunjettan, a parishioner of Cathedral church, Pulimavu, Kanjirappally. A Karnataka woman, named Pinjelamma with mental health disorder, was the first inmate of the Ashram.
So far 564 women were served at NSA. Few of them died; some of them have been shifted to other service centres. Currently 113 women with mental health disorders are staying as inmates. The ashram provides for all their needs including free food, medicine, shelter and clothing with the great selfless support of the good people around.
Sufficient, balanced, hot lunch packets are served daily without fail to all our inmates by the families of the surrounding areas. Dr. (Sr). Carmali, a mental health expert, has been visiting the ashram and guiding the staff in all the inmate’s psycho social needs.
The inmates have a daily schedule which includes prayer, yoga, medicine time, vocational training in tailoring, art and craft, agro- animal farming, gardening and cultural activities such as music, dance, skit etc. These activities under supervision, help each and every inmate in her all- round development. Carmelite sisters came forward to collaborate with the project and it is well appreciated. It grew with the continuous support and sacrifice of the community around. This ashram is committed to serve the women who are wandering in the street and women with intellectual disability who are not safe at home. This has been considered as a model centre and different service providers visit this centre to learn its functioning.