A vision that drives us
The Gerdi Gutperle Agasthiyar Muni Child Care Centre at Vellamadam, Nagercoil, is a Children' Speciality Hospital with German collaboration, established to give quality medical care primarily to the poor children (upto the age of 12) of the southern districts (Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli and Tuticorin) of Tamil Nadu
This Child Care Centre is named after the great Indian sage Agasthiyar, who is reputed to be the Father of Indian medicine. The name of the German sponsor Mrs. Gerdi Gutperle is also prefixed. In fact it is this lady, Gerdi, a devotee of Agasthiyar, who was very keen on naming the Child Care Centre after the great Agasthiyar.
The Child Care Centre is not just a hospital, but we envisage promoting the entire spectrum of health. This comprises of 3 aspects:
One of our specialities is the Well Baby Clinic which finds out if the children have appropriate development for their age. It also tries to detect diseases which could be required from parents and provide appropriate treatment or counselling. We have also the facility of 'Tele-consultancy' by which the doctors of the hospital can be in touch with major health institutions around the world for upto date clinical information and management of diseases. In our medical care to children, we wish to integrate Indian systems of medicine, such as Siddha, Ayurveda etc. along with the allopathic medical system. The hospital is surrounded by beautiful gardens. Inside the hospital premises there is a fish pond and a spacious play room for children. Our vision is: 'A Healthy and Happy Childhood'. Our goal is to make quality health care accessible and affordable to all needy children. Since the Child Care Centre is located in a rural area (Sahayanagar village panchayat in Thovalai Taluk of Kanyakumari District), we intend to make our health services accessible to people by providing free transport from the main road (i.e. N.H. 47B passing through Vellamadam). We also provide ambulance services. We provide food for all patients and their attendants at a minimum charge (breakfast Rs. 7/-; lunch Rs.12/-; supper Rs. 6). For the poorest of the poor we provide free food. We also provide accommodation and mess facilities for close relatives of patients who come from long distances. Our wish is to make quality medical care affordable to poor people. We provide fully free medical care and surgical interventions to the poorest of the poor, such as the tribals, gypsies, other similar social groups, orphans, abandoned children etc. Children of parents whose monthly earnings are nothigher than Rs. 2500/- are also included in this "fully free" category. Children of parents whose monthly earnings are not more than Rs. 5000/- receive huge concessions (about 60%). Children of parents whose monthly earnings are not more than Rs. 7500/- receive considerable concessions (about 25%). Children of parents whose monthly earnings are more than Rs. 7500/- are expected to pay full charges. The German Foundation of Ms. Gerdi Gutperle and her husband Werner Gutperle which has helped us to put up this Child Care Centre (buildings in 90,000 square feet, medical and surgical equipments) has assured us of continued support for the concessions and free treatments.
- Preventive i.e. by developing Health Care by health education (by providing health awareness and protection) and screening for early detection of diseases.
- Curative i.e. by developing into a tertiary paediatric referral hospital.
- Reconstructive and rehabilitative, i.e. by providing opportunity to children who have birth or acquired defects, to undergo reconstructive procedures through surgery or other aids. Children, who have noncorrectable ailments, will be provided rehabilitative measures like counselling, physiotherapy etc. and if required, will be referred to institutions which cater to their special needs.
Our motto is: service with courtesy and honesty. All the employees of the GGAMCCC understand that they are here primarily to serve. Their induction into the GGAMCCC is seen by them as a call to service. Of course they are provided with a decent remuneration. The employees also share in the joy of being able to make quality medical care affordable to poor children. We aim to provide service with courtesy. We wish to give the feeling of being wanted and respected to every patient who enters our campus. They should feel happy and their visit to our Child Care Centre should be seen by them as really fruitful. We wish to provide medical care with utmost honesty. In an age when allegations of unfair medical practices are not too infrequent, we wish to make a difference. People who come with their children to our GGAMCCC can be sure that they will receive all the medical attention and surgical processes they require and only those which they really require. Awareness of the helplessness of the patients in this area makes us all the more conscientious in providing health service in all honesty.
A day in the Child Care Centre begins with a prayer which includes a reading either from the Bhagavat Gita, the holy Quran, the Bible, and sayings of great Indian souls such as Vivekananda, Tagore, and Gandhi etc. or from Tamil sages such as Thiruvalluvar, Manikkavasagar etc.
The Gerdi Gutperle Agasthiar Muni Child Care Centre is run by a charitable company (under section 25) of which Fr. Patrick Xavier and I along with the German sponsors Werner Gutperle, Rene Gutperle and Gerdi Gutperle Foundation (in Germany) are Directors. Through it is a company, we strive to function as a family, interested in the welfare of everyone and promoting participative leadership.
The Management Advisory Committee comprising of eminent personalities mostly from the southern Districts helps the Child Care Centre to evolve common perspectives, strategies and programmes. The Bishop of the Diocese of Kottar (Nagercoil), Most. Rev. Dr. Peter Remigius is the Chairman of the Management Advisory Committee.
It is my fond hope that we, working with the motto of serving with courtesy and honesty, will be able to achieve, at least to a considerable extent, our goal of making quality medical care accessible and affordable to poor children, in our march towards realizing our vision of 'A Healthy and Happy Childhood'
Fr. Cruz. M. Hieronymus
The Paths we have treaded
Life is Beautiful' is a word very often uttered by Mr. Werner Gutperle, who has journeyed this life by enjoying and savouring the beautiful aspects of life and so has really made life a beautiful one. Mrs. Gerdi Gutperle likewise believes that she had been born into this world to give to blossom and give life to poor children. With these high ideals governing their life, they travelled in the same path with the oneness of mind and that propelled them to start the Gerdi Gutperle Agasthiyar Muni Child Care Centre. They belong to the wealthy class and enjoy a luxurious and rich life in Germany. Their meaningful outlook of life, humaneness and real concern for others made them to thrive both at the family and at the business front. Mrs. Gerdi Gutperle used to portray the aspirations and feelings of her mind in the form of beautiful painting works suggested to her husband one day, "I am going to paint some pictures and plan to sell them to help poor children." Mr. Werner responded to her saying that he could donate her for the same cause ten times more than that amount she would made by selling her pictures, and this paved the way for the establishment of Gerdi Gutperle Foundation in Germany.
I firmly believe that the starting a Child Care Centre at Vellamadam is God's work. This scheme would not have materialised if our German friend Mr. Axel Fisher had not met the Gutperle couple and taken initiatives to introduce Gutperle family to us. Or it would have also possible that the project would have gone to a different place in India if Gutperle couple had an opportunity to meet some one else interested to start such a project in another place. Rev.Fr. Hieronymus and myself showed our interest in cooperating with them to start the Child Care Centre. Mr. & Mrs. Gutperle agreed and along with Mr. Axel Fisher met late Bishop Leon Dharmaraj in February 2004, explained to him about the objectives of the project and got his blessings. This was the green signal for the Indian phase of the Gerdi Gutperle Foundation work.
It is interesting to recall the way they selected this part of our state to execute the project. As Mr. Werner Gutperle was fully lost in the beauty and majesty of the Western Ghats and the highly fertile green paddy fields, Mrs. Gerdi Gutperle ran with the children holding her hands and enjoying every bit of the moment spent with the little kids. After examining six different locations for the project, they were quite satisfied with this beautiful location. Though we felt it was remote from the main link road, Mr. Werner convinced us saying that people will definitely throng to this medical care centre which will provide high quality medical care with love and concern.
In July 2004, Mr. Borgio joined us as the first employee of the project. His wide experience, tireless efforts and total commitment made the initial phase of the work progress without delay. At that juncture, I experienced how difficult it was to buy a large area at one place for a project like this. It took almost two years for us to buy ten acres of land from seven different individuals.
On 10th October 2004, the foundation stone was blessed by the arch bishop of Madurai, Most. Rev. Peter Fernando and it was laid by Mr. and Mrs. Gutperle. The function was graced by fifty five friends who had come all the way from Germany which added glamour to the ceremony. The presence of the locals from Vellamadam and surrounding villages also made it all the more colourful. It proved that it was a wonderful occasion for the coming together of people. In June 2005, Mr. and Mrs. Gutperle opened a temporary building of 2000 square feet for keeping the building materials and to run the office work of the project.
A German architect Mr. Michael Bugert was called to conceive the hospital building with a high standard hygienic ambience utilising the fresh air and the bright sun light available at the site in all seasons. Keeping in mind these natural resources, he designed the building and sent us the layout immediately. Soon advertisements were out in the newspaper calling for tenders. After so many inspections, the building consultant, Mr. Joseph guided us to start contract work with Urgentchs and David Associates and consequently on November 1, 2005 the building work was started.
Mr. Wener Gutperle came here to review the construction work in March 2006. The work could not progress as expected because of the nature of the soil and continuous rain fall.
On 17 August 2006, a Dispensary was opened which rendered great service to the children of this area. The opening function of the hospital was presided over by the Sahayanagar Panchayat President Mr. Yesudhasan. The humble beginning of this hospital was made successful by a team of people involved actively in the project. The ordinary people and small children were attracted by Dr. Cross Micheals' highly approachable and friendly nature. Dr. Jagadish Manuels' cool and soft disposition coupled with his witty speeches enlivened the lives of the poor people. The hard and untiring services of nurse Suja, pharmacist Suba, lab-technician Arul Rajan heralded a great beginning in the execution of the project. The coordinated efforts of these people strengthened our contacts with the poor people around and we could do useful service to those in need. In November 2006 Mrs. Gutperle officially opened this dispensary.
Again in March 2007, Mr. And Mrs. Gutperle visited us and speeded up the pace of the work. While the construction work was taking place in one part of the building, medical services were provided in other parts where the work had been over. On 8-10-2007 Rev. Kulanthai Swamy blessed the In-patient Ward and it started functioning.
As this dream to have a modern child care centre has become a reality, I strongly feel that it was made possible only because of the joint efforts of many generous and large-hearted individuals. It is my bounden duty to include all those involved in the development of the project, but due to the limitations of space involved in writing a report like this, I shall recall the contributions of only some people. When this project was at its initial stage, we had our own doubts and reluctance to go ahead. But it was Dr. S. Johnson Raj who instilled courage in us saying that it was a wonderful opportunity and that we can make it a successful venture. I thank Mr. John Ohilvi for being with us from day one we started deliberating on this project and for assisting us in company affairs. I sincerely thank Mr. Joseph for acting as the chief building consultant at the beginning and Mrs. Shoba Mohan, the present architect for strengthening the works that have been carried out so far. I specially thank Prof. Ganapathy, Mr. Maria George, Mr. Ganesan and Mr. Darwin who formed a dedicated team of engineers in this project. I thank Mr. Robert for offering his suggestions during the course of the work. I also thank Mr. Kumaradhas for acting not only as an engineer but also helping us out with his innovative ideas and getting us to have easy contacts with influential people. It is my privilege to thank building contractors Mr. David Sundar Singh, Mr. Anand, Mr. Maria James, Mr. Mathias, Mr. Dinakaran and Mr. Amal. I thank Dr. Arul Prakasam for providing us with his ideas. I extend my sincere thanks to the people of Othamarakudi, Puthukalvi Vilai, Beema Nagari for the co-operation and interest in the project. I specially thank sister Jenova for acting as a bridge between us and the public and for her total willingness to help us at all times and for her involvement in the growth of the child care centre.
The world we live in is a commercial world. But the people, who had business contacts with us took cognizance of our selfless service, have become aware of the high goals of the project and have taken steps to be part of the project.
Mr. Dinesh, the partner of Vinesh Rajan Metal House, always reminded us that he was like our own brother and whenever we needed any help, we should immediately contact him so that he could come down from Madurai. He has been here quite a lot of time at our request.
Mr. Dharmesh, the partner of K.A.M.A.K Dharmaraj Nadar, has always provided his best ideas and has introduced us to reliable and good persons.
Mr. Soma Sundaram, the owner of Arasu Paper Mart, encourages us by showering his praises on us.
Mr. Belarmine, the owner of Sirumalar Electricals, and Mr. Vitus, the partner of Retnam Hardwares, were helpful to usby their guidance.
Mr. Balan, Mr. Thomas Xavier, the partners of Lax Blue Metals had a way of helping by being with us in all the works that we undertook.
Mr. Selvam, Mr. Immanuel, our neighbours were ready to heed to our calls and to immediately run to us to play their part in all the programmes.
Mr. Rajendran, Advisor of the electrical department, known for his simplicity spent electricity judiciously and carefully planned it for our future use too.
Mr. Valan has acted as an advisor and readily made himself available whenever there was a programme.
Mr. Bennoy, the Managing Partner of Arch Medies helped us to plan the indoor facilities of the building.
Mr. Harry, the Managing partner of Asiatic installed everything in the operation theatre.
The Advisory committee members indeed became the partners of this mission by making themselves available and encouraging us amidst their busy schedule and works.
The list will go on and finally,
With the ideal of providing quality and comprehensive health care to the poor and the needy children at an affordable cost in the southern districts of our state Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli and Tuticorin, the Child Care Centre has began its sojourn. It is only a beginning. Rendering service to the poor is the core spirit of this project. Honesty with courtesy is its hallmark. Keeping all these ideals and working in line with this spirit, this centre will become a shining star in the lives of millions of children in need. We are a unique institution in many respects. We ourselves should evolve our standards, policies and procedures. In this regard we are here with an open mind always to receive useful suggestions from all our well wishers. We request each and every one of you to extend your cooperation, ideas and join us in our efforts to make this mission meaningful to the children.