Bringing New Life Through Navajeevan


Kottayam: Social service maybe a pastime for many but it is a priority for P U Thomas, the Founder and Managing Director of Navajeevan Trust, a psycho-social rehabilitation centre. Based at Villoonni in Kottayam district, the Trust started in 1990, has about 250 mentally challenged persons under its care and around 50 volunteers to help them. Thomas, popularly known as ‘Thomas Chettan’, has been offering a helping hand for the hapless people for quite some time.

He has been providing food to around 7000 patients and their bystanders in four hospitals of Kottayam, namely Medical College Hospital (MCH), Institute of Child Health, District Hospital and Ayurveda Hospital. This is done on a daily basis with the support of many generous contributors. The daily expenditure for running the Navajeevan Trust is a whopping Rs. one lakh but still the management is able to run it smoothly without the support or help of the government.

“Everything is God’s work and divine providence. Everyone should visit orphanages and encourage their friends to do social service. It is time people themselves started bringing about changes rather than expecting others to do it. When people help others with utmost sincerity, God will help us and everyone can experience it in their life,’’ says Thomas about his guiding philosophy.

He is an inspiration to society for his humanitarian work which helps orphans, poor patients, destitute people and the mentally challenged. He takes initiative under the aegis of the Trust to offer them food, shelter and medical treatment.
Unfortunately, Thomas could not pursue his education beyond VII standard and had to leave his village in search of a job along with his friend. His childhood was spent in financial difficulties which, in turn, helped mould him as a strong person capable of facing the challenges in life.

He developed a liking for social service at a young age itself because he grew up seeing his parents offering food to the poor. “During my school days, I used to share my food with classmates who did not bring food. I used to offer food for the poor and starve myself. The turning point in my life came when I was admitted to the Medical College Hospital. It was the first time I had been to a hospital,” recalls Thomas. After seeing the miserable condition and hardship of the poor patients admitted to the General Ward, he felt an earnest desire to serve them and began helping those who could not afford to buy food.

By the age of 20, he worked as a mess boy and later as a gardener at the Men’s Hostel of Kottayam Medical College. Although he didn’t earn much, his desire to help the poor did not die down. In 1970, he was appointed as a Grade-4 Assistant at the Medical College Hospital. He was perhaps the first government employee to do social service and provide food to the patients of a government hospital. He set a unique example of how an ordinary person, that too, a government servant, can do exceptional social service.

“One of my most memorable experiences was when I found a mentally unstable pregnant woman named Manu Bhai from Rajasthan at the garbage dumping yard of the MCH. I took care of her and made arrangements for her delivery. It was her plight which prompted me to start a rehabilitation centre for the poor and destitute. Soon I rented a few rooms to offer care to the mentally ill and named it ‘Navajeevan’. That is how the journey of Navajeevan Trust started,” he adds.

The Trust is also involved in other activities such as ‘Oru Kai, Oru Pothi’ to encourage students to bring food packets and distribute them among patients; ‘Kanivin Karangal’ meant to help people fulfill their basic needs; ‘Manninte Madhuram’ to help protect the innate qualities of Nature; ‘Snehaveed’ to build houses for the poor; ‘Snehadesam’ to provide groceries and medicine worth Rs. 3000 to the poor and ‘Kaithangu’ to offer a monthly assistance of Rs. 3000 to patients suffering from kidney ailments. The Trust also organises entertainment programs during days of festivals like Christmas and Easter.

Thomas is also a nature lover who takes initiative to spread awareness about the benefits of having a clean and green environment around us. Around 2500 trees have been planted on the MCH and Children’s Hospital campuses under his initiative. Navajeevan Trust also motivates schoolchildren to plant trees and keep the surroundings clean.
“I have been part of the Navajeevan Trust for the past seven years. We provide a platform where people from different walks of life can mingle with each other. Social service requires dedication and Navajeevan is the ideal place to do it,” said James Kurian, Navajeevan Trust volunteer and son-in-law of Thomas.

Simplicity and humility are the hallmarks of Thomas who is an ardent follower of Mother Theresa.  Salu George, a Navajeevan Trust volunteer, says, “I have been working with Thomas chettan for the past 18 years. I work in the office of the Trust. He is a blessed human being who has built everything from scratch. We are thankful to God that we got the opportunity to work with him.”

“Everyone should think about engaging in humanitarian activities. Spread happiness by doing good to society. I feel happy when I see people eat together in the hospital and it fills my heart. My wish is to encourage the youth to engage more in social welfare activities,” concludes Thomas.

For more details about Navajeevan Trust, call: 0481-2590300, 3230983