Banyan Foundation gets award for service to mentally ill

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Chennai, Sep 2 (UNI) The Aram Award, instituted by Shriram Ilakkiya Kazhagam (SIK), a literary wing of Shriram Group, has been awarded to Ms Vandana Gopikumar and Ms Vaishnavi Jayakumar, Founders, Banyan Foundation, for 2007 in recognition of their selfless contribution to the mentally-ill destitute women.

Chhattisgarh Governor E S L Narasimhan presented the award carrying a cash prize of Rs one lakh.

In addition the Shriram Group gave a donation of Rs one lakh towards Banyan's expenditure for a day.

The Aram Award was instituted primarily to honour eminent social contributors who adhere to the core values advocated by Thirukkural, a treatise of saint poet Thiruvalluvar on the art of living.

Ms Vaishnavi Jayakumar received the award on behalf of the Banyan at a function here last evening. The Governor also distributed prizes to the winners of the Thirukkural elocution competition conducted among school and college students by the Kazhagam.

Addressing the function, the Governor said those who keep the mentally ill out of sight must be out of their mind.

He said though the state and central governments were coming to the aid of the mentally ill, very few NGOs were working towards rehabilitation of such individuals in a big way.

''In this light, the Banyan richly deserves this award,'' he said and paid rich encomiums on Ms Vandana and Ms Vaishnavi calling them 'Karmayogis.' ''Banyan's biggest achievement is victory over apathy towards the mentally ill. We are ordinary people who are part of an extraordinary people's movement. We see this award as recognition of a group of people, the mentally ill and their problems,'' Ms Vaishnavi Jayakumar said speaking on the occasion.

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