Letter from India (Tom Sutherland)

Bystander Trivandrum Tiruvananthapuram Kerala India Health Help International UK charity low overheads

Dear Edmund,

The grace and peace of our Lord Jesus.  

It's Saturday morning and I've managed the kidney medicines distribution alone, and without strain, so things are looking up.  Shibu has just arrived so I'll get a few stories and then we go and send a couple of pictures.

Ajayan, 48, is from Changanoor (with Shibu, right leg bandaged).  He was a heavy drinker,  and, crossing the road, he was hit by a vehicle.  He can't remember anything. Because of his addiction, his family won't have anything to do with him.  He will need an operation [which HHI will probably need to pay for].  Shibu is doing all that is needed.

Mariyandi  Marthandum - from Tamil Nadu (on bed with Shibu behind - left leg in plaster).  Crossing the road, he was hit by car.  Police brought him to the hospital.  His leg has been set in plaster. An operation is not necessary. Shibu has been looking after him for 3 weeks.  He will soon be discharged - but he has nowhere to go.  We are searching for a place.

Thampi (Kerala) was walking beside the railway line and was hit by a train.  Both legs were severed.  Shibu has been looking after him for one month.  Nobody has come.

Unknown (with oxygen mask.  Shibu by bed).  Only today, after two weeks, has he regained a little consciousness.  He is feeding by rice tube.  We don't know anything about him.  Yesterday our church prayed for him, at Shibu's especial request, and Shibu is so happy that today he is rather better.

Bahulayan was discharged from the hospital over two weeks ago and we have been trying to find a place to take him.  Both Johnnie and Rani are not well and felt they couldn't take him.  The director of the Bethany Fathers (Father Gabriel's congregation) was visiting the Holy Land but he returned 10 days ago and Shibu and I went to see him.  He is a wonderful man  (you must meet him) and he was delighted that we had asked, as Father Gabriel and our work at Toppandam for destitute patients had been the inspiration for him to do this work.  Earlier the building was a large garment factory, run by the Church, but it was not successful and the Congregation used it to house homeless and destitute men.  When he was just beginning I can remember taking three men there.  Now it is all very nicely set up.  He told Shibu that he can take patients from the hospital there when needed so that is great.  However, when Shibu returned to the hospital he found two police officers beside the bed of Bahulayan - there had been an arrest warrant put out for him.  They looked very suspiciously at poor Shibu but the sister quickly came to his rescue and said he was not an accomplice in whatever Bahulayan had been up to. 

You will have heard of the tragic cyclone that hit the coast of Kerala - one of the worst hit areas was the beach front in front of the old Indian Coffee House where we used to have a cup of coffee after your arrival.  I don't know the exact figures but I think about 70 bodies have been recovered and some 180 are still missing while several hundred were rescued from the sea by a massive air and boat search and rescue operation.  Shibu has played a sad and difficult part in it all, because as the hospital assistants have been reluctant to do it he has attended to many of the bodies and taken them to the hospital morgue.  We can be very proud of him.

On to a happier subject, I came up to Sitrepure, a village some 25 kilometres from Bangalore where my friends Syoli and Jane Suhi live.  When they heard I had been ill they asked me to come and rest, and paid for an air fare which was so good of them.  It's been so good and restful here.  I do hope that one year you could come here for a couple of days - they'd love to meet you.  Jane had a lovely little village school here for some 45 years and this year she has closed it - many reasons, government regulations being the main one, and the need is no longer here - when she started there was a village, originally started by a priest for children whose parents had died in a famine.  The children of a couple of generations later, coming from the lowest groups, were not welcomed at the only local school.  On the Sunday before last past students gave Jane a wonderful thank you celebration - speeches and a program and a meal - some 400 came.  It was such a happy event.  I got a small trophy (together with other teachers) as a screen printing teacher. 

This letter has been written in dribs and drabs.  I hope it makes sense.  Do have a happy Christmas.

With all our prayers, Tom.