Anjali inaugurates Dhobi Ghar in partnership with The Hans Foundation

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Ushers in a new era of healthcare with dignity in mental hospitals ~

India CSR News Network

KOLKATA: Anjali, a mental health rights organisation based in Kolkata, and The Hans Foundation, a charitable trust fund created to provide a source of endowment for not-for-profit organizations in India, today inaugurated ‘Dhobi Ghar’, a spacious, automated laundry service at Calcutta Pavlov Hospital, which will open the doors for hospital inmates, who have recovered from mental illness, to the world of employment and a life of dignity.

the hans foundationDhobi Ghar is the latest initiative of Anjali, which for the last 15 years, has worked for the protection of the rights of the persons with mental illness, and their rehabilitation as active and productive members of society. Anjali had started a canteen within the Calcutta Pavlov Hospital premises last year which continues to run successfully by recovered patients awaiting rehabilitation. Anjali also provides training in art and crafts to the inmates, both for self-expression and for training in skilled work.

Ratnaboli Ray, Founder & Director, Anjali said, “The objective of establishing Dhobi Ghar is to develop a ‘replicable model’ through a multi-sector collaboration in providing employment opportunities for long staying, abandoned and recovered people from mental illness staying within the hospital, to recognize their potential and capabilities.”

Ray added, “Our experience has shown that prejudice against job seekers with a history of mental illness is rampant. The nature of illness, the extent of recovery, the level of qualification and skills of the job-seeker cannot mitigate the stigma against mental illness. We are working to identify the most effective ways to help them and make the larger population more aware and to involve them in a scientific and human rights-based discourse on mental health.”

Established with the support from the Department of Health, Government of West Bengal, for the space provided and fund support from The Hans Foundation, Dhobi Ghar at Calcutta Pavlov Hospital is a perfect example of multi-sector collaboration. The technical support to the laundry house has been provided by Sparsh Foundation, Calcutta.

In his address, Dr. G. V. Rao, Executive Director, The Hans Foundation said, “Over the years, The Hans Foundation has increased its outreach and the grants funded in the area of skill development, therapeutic support and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities. Reintegrating patients who have recovered from mental illness back to society is crucial. We are happy that innovative services are being developed for people who are recovered from mental illness which will give them hope in living as full a life as possible in society.”

He shared, “By supporting Anjali’s initiative, we hope to throw light on the myth that those with mental conditions are not able to live productive life. The objective is to defy stereotypes so that potential employers are aware of vocational abilities of this segment of the workforce. We believe the establishment of ‘Dhobi Ghar’ will contribute to continuing efforts by Anjali to promote opportunities for people rehabilitated and recovered from mental illness.”

Dhobi Ghar will employ 24 women and men at a time, who have lost out several years inside the fringes of a mental institution. They will earn Rs 257/- a day for each day of work and money will be remitted in their respective bank accounts.

The opening ceremony of Dhobi Ghar was graced by the presence of Dr. Shashi Panja, Minister of State, Health and Child Welfare, Govt. Of West Bengal, Sanghamitra Ghosh- Secretary, Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of West Bengal, Rupam Banerjee, Deputy Secretary, Dept. of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of West Bengal, Dr. S. Satpathi, Director of Health Services, Dr. Saibal Banerjee, Assistant Director of Health Services,Debashish Bose, I.A.S, Commissioner, Health Additional Secretary, Health & Family Welfare Dept., Dr. Manjusree Ray, Principal, National Medical College, Dr. Ganesh Prasad, Superintendent, Calcutta Pavlov Hospital and Elizabeth Neuville and Genevieve Fitzgibbon from Keystone Human Service.

Anjali works in one of the most neglected areas of health. Mental Illness is not a priority as a health issue in any part of the world, more so in developing nations like India. Anjali’s thrust is two fold – one, to establish Mental Illness within the mainstream health paradigm of India and two, to ‘speak for’ a large population of marginalized people with mental illness vis-à-vis their right to a professional and inclusive system of care and treatment.

Anjali works with a group of people who have suffered both ‘stigma’ and are ‘voiceless’. They are men and women who suffer from chronic mental illnesses, living in state institutions of care and treatment. Anjali’s mission is to move from institutionalization to full rehabilitation of people with mental illness, ensuring participation and consent of the mentally-ill in all decisions related to her life.

The Hans Foundation (THF) is a charitable trust fund that was created in 2009 to provide a source of endowment for not-for-profit organizations in India. As one of India’s largest funds, THF has supported over 151 organizations across 25 states and union territories, with 500 completed and ongoing projects in the areas of healthcare, education, disability, livelihood, water and sanitation.

 

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