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Andalamma's tale of woe

Written by: Staff

Chennai, July 6 (UNI) She has already lost one of her children to a congenital disability, which went untreated because of poverty and alleged government indifference. Andalamma of Pattinampakkam, near here, is now fear-stricken that the same fate will befall four other children of hers, who suffer the same illness.

The pitiable state of this Adi Dravidar (SC) family has become worse due to the conspicuous failure of the state administration in recognising its need for help.

They cannot afford medical treatment. They show visitors empty bottles of herbal medicine donated to them by a charitable trust, hoping it will touch someones heart to save them from perennial misery.

As Y Arul Doss, a social worker, who recently heard of their plight and has now taken up their cause, says, ''the family is eligible for financial assistance under many criteria, but somehow it is not coming through''.

Arul Das, a volunteer of the Unorganised Workers Federation, told UNI, ''I submitted a memorandum to former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa but to no avail. I also petitioned the District Collector, but that too drew a blank''.

Mr Arul then approached the National Commission for Women when it held a meeting in Santhome Community Hall near Pattanampakkam in October 2005. This too yielded no fruit. He and his group are persisting with their efforts.

The family is subsisting on the meagre income of Rs 200 per head, receive as stipend for the physically disabled and what Suguna, the eldest daughter, earns as a sweeper in the Chennai Corporation.

Talking to UNI, Andalamma, in her seventies, said, each of her children began to show signs of physical disability, which led to complete handicap. The congenital disease, which struck them within a few years of birth, left five of her seven children crippled.

Andalamma is too illiterate to give the disease a name.

The agony was precipitated with the death of Arumugam, the head of the family in 1998. He was a daily wage earner.

Chandra died after prolonged illness in last November. Chandra's brother Thyagarajan was caught in the killer Tsunami waves. He was rescued by a bystander and taken to a city hospital nearby.

To give a picture of the family as it is now, Andalamma suffers from acute rheumatism. While Suguna is the sole breadwinner, another daughter, Vimala, is married. Viswanathan, 40, is crippled below the waist and needs help even to move a little. There is a cord stretched across the room in their house for him hold on and take a few steps. Twenty seven-year-old Jayaram became mentally challenged after a fever when he was just eight-months old. Kalpakam and Tyagarajan are also crippled, with the condition worsening slowly.


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