Tom Sutherland from an Indian perspective

This has recently arrived in my Facebook feed.  It is a moving tribute to a great man.

Eighty-three-year-old Tom Sutherland lives in an old house in the beautiful coastal village of Portfair, Victoria, on the south coast of Australia. He is not bothered by his own old age, illness or fear of death.  On the contrary, the grief of that man is only for the helpless children, the orphans, the sick and the helpless old people who are waiting in the southernmost Malayalam country of India, across this ocean and the other ocean!  Forty years ago, as an assignment, Tom Sutherland, an Australian, lit himself up as a beacon to alleviate the suffering and hunger of the poor in the hilly region of south Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. Finally last year, the philanthropist returned to his homeland suddenly, unable to untie the knot of the changed visa rules and in the throes of old age and disease.

Saip who loved India


Tom Brother, who firmly believed that words could not replace action, was too stingy to speak. Those silent actions that did not fade away were far more valuable and weighty than sound. He tried to recall some memories in a soft voice to the repeated inquiries of the day:

"We grew up hearing a lot of stories about India as children. Father William Sutherland had served in Bombay for some time as the Secretary of the MCA. Father respects the experience of meeting and interacting with Mahatma Gandhi at a time when the Indian National Freedom Movement was gaining strength.”
He knew about the diversity and culture of India from his father to the poor people and the street cows here. While in India, Mary's mother set sail for India after her father, William, became interested in a matrimonial ad in an Australian newspaper.
She met William, met him and married him. I, the second of four children born to them, joined the University of Melbourne Technical College as a teacher at the age of twenty-six after graduation. Prior to that, he was a teacher at the Junior Technical School for four years.
Volunteer in the field of charity from the time of education
My heart was full of desire to serve as a servant. Hearings and inquiries about India have always attracted me there. With the help of the Melbourne Jesuit Seminary, he came to know about the activities of Mother Teresa and the Missionary of Charity Brothers he started.  He quit his teaching job and came to Kolkata in 1975. During his nine months in Kolkata, he gained a deeper understanding of the India of the poor. Navajivan in Howrah, a rehabilitation center for children with various physical challenges, and the Charity Brothers' Tuberculosis and Leprosy Eradication Act.  He was also able to take part in activities to help orphaned street children in Kolkata. It was only in his short stay in Kolkata that he came to know the Buddha. The Buddha and the Bodhi tree, who told every human being to illuminate himself as a lamp, are always like Christ within.
It was my acquaintance with Augustine and Michael, the Malayalees who worked for the Charity Brothers in Kolkata, that helped me to hear about God's own country and came here to Kerala. With the arrival of Nedumangad in Thiruvananthapuram in August 1976 along with Augustine and Michael, another era began.
The nickname of selflessness
Nedumangad, a hilly region surrounded by rivers and hills, looked as beautiful to Tom Sutherland as Victoria. But it was a time when people were suffering from poverty and disease. 'People's Fraternity Service' in Thiruvananthapuram run by Gabrielachan independently.  Tom Sutherland arrived with Augustine and Michael on a mission to. Tom's arrival made a big difference to the group, which made spinning tools and worked on a meager income from spinning looms. It marked the beginning of the charity society 'Thripada Ashram'. 
Tom really understood the plight of the people who saw the starving people in the hills who had no money to buy medicine and even food grains queuing up every day for small financial aid. The man rode his bicycle through the villages.
Villages full of famine, people without clothes, helpless people who could not be cured of leprosy, tuberculosis and cancer, children who did not go to church because of hunger ...! During those difficult nights, Tom looked at the Bible and thought only of the poor people he met in the villages.
'I lift up my eyes to the mountains; Where can I get help? That help will come from the One who created the heavens and the earth. "  He had a few people overseas with a glimmer of hope and a green glow of hope. Tom told relatives and friends in his hometown about the plight of poor people in some hilly country in another great country overseas. He tried to copy the meaning of what Christ and Gandhi said to them.
Tom Sutherland's relatives and friends helped them out of the country. Small buildings were erected at the Thripada Ashram. The help of good neighbors and natives was received.
He bought land nearby and started a home for the elderly and orphans. Those released from the ninth ward of the Thiruvananthapuram General Hospital, which admits orphans, were also brought to this house and started being accommodated. He started a sewing school for poor women and a nursery school for young children. Organized workers who made products from bamboo and reeds and assisted in production and distribution. He began to provide assistance to the chronically ill living in rural homes to buy medicine and food. Small flats were built for the landless and homeless. Toilets and wells were made available to the most needy. Tom Brother and Satisfaction Home for the Homeless and Orphans.
Satisfaction footing
In the 1980s, the hill villages were plagued by famine and drought. The penny-income women-headed families plunged into abject poverty. Tom Sutherland believed that the hand of God would fall on homes where women suffered. Transforming these women into low-income people will make a big difference in families. As the education of the children continues, the next generation will follow suit.
Tom saw a handicraft show in Bangalore when he went to see Jodisahi at the Charity Brothers in Kolkata. It was there that she realized that women could make hand-woven cotton bracelets with Banyan tree leaf paintings and greeting cards and that there would be enough market
Tom stayed in Bangalore for days and mastered their construction techniques. Back in Thripada, it started its training for children and women. Stipend was also given to those during the training period. With such handicrafts being made into homemade soap, agarbatti and chalk, women began to earn a small income. Tom Saip also worked to find markets for greeting cards and cotton bracelets, including in foreign countries.
When women became slightly self-sufficient, hunger in households decreased. Once the children who had gone to work and housework and dropped out of school were found and given the help they needed, the children in the villages also started going to school without interrupting their studies. He was also justified in not growing office buildings and facilities in Thripada. Institutions do not have to grow; Individuals and communities need to grow. He went on to say that the hallmark of every human being is to help his fellow man live with dignity. Tom deliberately tried not to even know the glory of doing one hand with the other.  That life kept saying that those who do not love man cannot love God. Tom Brother and his bicycle traveled for a long time through one side of the town and through the alleys of the villages.  When a group called Thripada started growing as an institution, Tom realized that it was self-sufficient and moved to another area in Thiruvananthapuram itself with a new movement. Since 2000, education and treatment have been the main agenda under the label 'Banyan Tree' and the work has continued with unprecedented vigor.
In the shade of the 'Banyan Tree'
Philip Mathew, Tom's descendant and director of the Banyan Tree Special School for two decades, explains: '' Since 1997, under the shadow of the Banyan Tree, 'Brother Tom's continued to help families with children who could not continue their education and families with the terminally ill.
A few of his acquaintances formed a charity called 'Friends of the Banyan Tree' in England and donated. Free tuition centers for poor children and mobile clinics for the sick were started in rural and tribal areas.
Tom's bicycle was constantly moving to provide support for the disabled. Tom's day would not have ended without caring for the orphans in the ninth ward of the city's General Hospital during any rush. Later, with the help of the European-based charitable organization Health Help International, it was able to provide significant assistance for the further treatment and screening of the poor suffering from cancer, heart disease and kidney disease.  The Banyan Tree protects accidental orphans and dependent guest workers. Families in Kulachal affected by the 2006 tsunami were also able to buy land and provide housing.
In 2013, Tom Brother and Philip Mathew started Happy Valley Special School, which provides treatment and education for children with disabilities. Fifty children between the ages of three and 24 are currently receiving training and treatment here.
After volunteering for the orphanages in the ninth ward of the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College and General Hospital and cycling about fifty kilometers daily, Tom became exhausted and ill and had to abandon his childhood companion's bicycle. Tom often went to bed suffering from high blood pressure and skin cancer at the height of his restless service activities.
Return without breaking the law
Tom Brother received the full contribution from his parents' property and the full retirement benefits of his elder brother Peter Sutherland, a doctor, to help the poor in this country. They lovingly donated all of the maternal property received by Tom's brothers to Tom's activities. Philip's eyes watered unknowingly as he once shared the experience of a poor patient undergoing heart surgery and not being able to go to his birthday with the money for the plane ticket that his uncle sent to Tom to wish them a happy birthday.  He sought to help poor patients in the same hospitals who had been treated while suffering from high blood pressure and skin cancer. He was able to stay in the country for a long time without citizenship through the Commonwealth of Independent Resident Visa system.  After a change in visa rules in 2014, Tom returned home last year after failing to stay in India. Tom is still sending the lion's share of his old-age pension, which he has been receiving for the past year from his home country, to some of the needy families he used to help.  Tom Sutherland, who lives in Port Fairy, Victoria, under the care of his sister Ruth, says then and now that he has never done anything.
The only prayer of that man is that he should return to Kerala once again and merge into this very soil after doing something! When asked what he had to say, he kept saying, "I love India, I see Christ, Buddha and Gandhi as one."
Thanks to Mathrubhumi and dear Shinu ..
(Posted on Facebook by Joy Mulayara Joy on Christmas eve.  Translation by Google.)

If you would like to know more, you can buy a biography of Tom here.