Walking the Talk, Chittilappilly Scripting New Chapters in Philanthropy

Kochouseph’s tryst with philanthropy started in 2004 when he founded the Thomas Chittilappilly Trust in memory of his late parents

By Jose Kunnappally

He shall live because of me’ is the motto of the famed St. John’s Medical College in Bangalore. In no way connected to that institution but living by its motto in letter and spirit is 65-year-old Kochouseph Chittilappilly, founder chairman of V-Guard Industries Limited and Wonderla Amusement Parks and Resort Limited. But then, Kochouseph is no usual industrialist. He is also an author, humanitarian and social influencer. Through his Facebook page and blogs Kochouseph has been driving consciousness among our people by highlighting issues like corruption, accountability, sustainability and social responsibility. But two issues closest to his heart are organ donation (In 2011, he donated a kidney that saved Joy, a truck driver) and euthanasia (In 1998 he filed a suit in the Kerala High Court to legalise it).

“I was from a well-to-do family but have seen poverty from close quarters during my childhood in Parappur village of Thrissur district (Kerala),” says Kochouseph. “My parents, especially my mother, believed in supporting the less privileged sections of our society. I started my business with a meagre one lakh rupees and believe whatever I have earned is because of the generous support of hundreds of partners, thousands of employees and millions of customers. So, I owe it back to the society”.

Kochouseph’s tryst with philanthropy started in 2004 when he set up the Thomas Chittilappilly Trust in memory of his late parents. The Trust still nurtures Shantimandiram old-age home for women with over 40 inmates and Shantimandiram residential girls’ school accommodating 50 underprivileged students. Apart from providing funds on a regular basis for implementing various community development projects and assisting victims of natural disasters, the Trust has also offered health insurance cover to over 2300 poor families since its inception.

In 2011, inspired by Catholic priest David Chiramel, Kochouseph become the first depositor with the kidney bank promoted by the Kidney Federation of India (KFI). In India, only 3000 of the total 1,50,000 people who require a kidney transplant receive it on time! To champion organ donation as well as to facilitate education of underprivileged children and provide healthcare to poor patients, especially senior citizens, Kochouseph started K Chittilappilly Foundation (KCF) in May 2012. That was also the time he had handed over the reins of his business empire to sons Arun and Mithun.

“It takes extraordinary courage and conviction to undergo surgery when the recipient is not known to you and the donor is hale and hearty. He was walking the talk to espouse a noble cause,” says B Jayaraj, long-time associate and general manager of KCF. To spread the message of organ donation and to recognise such exceptional personalities in public who dare to take this decision under tremendous grief over the loss of their dear ones, KCF instituted Organ Donation Awards. The sixth edition of the awards held in April this year saw disbursement of Rs. 29 lakh to the family members of 19 donors.

(The writer is chief editor of Destination Kerala)