Serving tribals with love, gaining by the experience

Serving tribals with love, gaining by the experience

City volunteers come together for initiative

Tribals undergo the health check-up camp in Iruligara Colony. Paranjyothi (in white sari) who organised the camp.

A group of volunteers from the city recently joined hands to serve a unique community. The volunteers who included doctors, housewives and young professionals visited the Iruligara Colony, a tribal village. The volunteers cooked delicious meals for these tribals as part of the initiative.

Iruligara Colony is a tribal village situated in the midst of hills and forests about three km from Kanakapura town. The village has about 150 residents and 35 houses. However, the tribal village is deprived of any mode of public transportation despite the existence of a tar road. 

The initiative was a collaboration between Paranjyothi, founder of the Kusuma Jyothi Trust and the Seva 4 Smiles Cafe, a soup kitchen initiative aimed at making a difference to the lives of tribals.

"I had organised a health camp with the support of my friends who included a team of 15 doctors and 25 volunteers. The doctors included paediatricians, gynaecologists, dentists and ophthalmologists among others who screened the tribals for health problems and also provided treatment," said Paranjyothi, a social worker who has been serving the Iruligara community for the past four years.

Hearing about Paranjyothi's dedication towards uplifting the lives of these tribals, Tharanath Gajendra, the founder of Seva 4 Smiles Cafe, offered to be part of her initiative by volunteering to cook meals for the tribal community with the help of his team of volunteers. Each of the tribal members was personally invited by the volunteers who visited their homes along with local children. 

"It was an incredibly moving experience to serve a community. We cooked with our hands and our hearts. We did not have the required infrastructure but we managed to set up a kitchen with whatever we had. We were also supported by the Asha workers," said Gajendra.

Speaking of the Iruligara tribals, Paranjyothi says, "The tribals belong to low-income backgrounds and collect herbs from the forests for a living. There is a government school where the children study till Class 5 following which they have to drop out due to lack of transportation and the need to support the family. However, the knowledge and awareness of these tribal children are at par with the city's kids owing to the dedication of the teachers of the school."

"It was a beautiful experience. A moving experience was when an elderly man walked in with a stick. We served him to his heart's content and he also packed some for his son at home who was unwell," said Rashmi Bhat, a volunteer.

"There were smiles everywhere. Seeing the innocent faces of children brimming with excitement and happiness on the faces of the tribals made our day," added Tharanath.