Agape Bhavan is a regional center of the Kottayam Social Service Society (KSSS) found in the Cherpunkal village of the Meenachil Taluk in the Kottayam District of the Kerala State, India. In the Malayalam language of Kerala, “Bhavan” is synonymous with home. The Agape Center is dedicated to helping the disadvantaged people in the vicinity, to further harmony, peace, and unselfish love. It is also a home for the physically and mentally disabled or differently abled children and youth.
Rev. Fr. Abraham Mutholath gifted the Agape Bhavan to KSSS and Cherpunkal on the occasion of completing 25 years of his priestly ministry. The Centre was formally blessed and inaugurated on the 2nd of January, 2006. Fr. Abraham Mutholath, who hails from Cherpunkal Sts. Peter and Paul parish was director of the Kottayam Social Service Society from 1994 to 2000.
PURPOSE OF AGAPE BHAVAN
– To ensure equal opportunities and fullest participation of the SHG members, especially differently abled members of the KSSS.
– To conduct various awareness and training programmes for the village people for their holistic development.
– To promote various life-skill practices among the differently abled and ensure their self-reliance.
– To give awareness to the parents regarding the care and remedial measures to prevent disability.
– To serve as a vocational training institute for the differently abled.
ACTIVITIES AT THE AGAPE BHAVAN
The Agape Bhavan is a regional centre for all Self-Help Groups fostered by Kottayam Social Service Society to gather, attend seminars and other training programmes. The Self-Help Group members join various income generation activities and achieve additional income for their economic stability, through the training imparted here. The regional centre has separate office rooms for administration.
The Differently abled students who undergo training in this centre are members of SHGs promoted by KSSS as part of the Community-Based Rehabilitation Programme. The admission for the disabled students to this centre is through a process of identification by village staff. After the selection process, they provide regular academic training at this centre with close supervision. In Agape Bhavan, there are expert staff giving training to the differently abled for their integral development. The trainers provide medical services like physiotherapy, speech therapy and various life-skill practices. In these training courses, we include classes for the parents also to help them better manage their children with more awareness of the disability aspects. The trainers conduct periodical house visits to the students and maintain a good rapport with their family.
Besides physical training, different vocational trainings are also arranged for their economic stability of the students. The vocational training includes Book Production, paper bag making, screen printing, cover making and binding unit functions in this centre.
Fr. Abraham Mutholath bought the land for Agape Bhavan and constructed a building for it and donated to Kottayam Social Service Society, the Social Service Department of the Archdiocese of Kottayam on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his priestly ordination.
First, a classroom was constructed for the initial functioning of the institution. A Day Care Centre for the mentally and physically disabled children was started on August 16, 2004. There were only four children at the initial stage. Eventually, the number of students and activities increased to 26. The transpiration facility is arranged to bring students from their homes and to drop them back in the evenings.
An assembly is held for the students every day and a yoga session for three quarters of an hour. The students are divided into three classes and training is imported according to their mental capacity along with physiotherapy. In the afternoon session, classes are held on moral science, personality development and cultural activities. Vocational training like cover making, bookbinding, making of handicrafts is provided two days a week.
Classes and seminars are arranged for teachers every month. C.R.C. (Case Review Committee) meetings are held twice every month. Case history and individual training methods are discussed in that meeting. Seminars are conducted for parents and siblings of these students. Once in three months PTA (Parents Teachers Association) meeting is conducted to plan and evaluate the school activities.
Considering the need for more rooms, the second stage of construction was started on June 30, 2005. The blessing and inauguration of the completed building of Agape Bhavan along with the Silver Jubilee of the priestly ordination of Fr. Abraham Mutholath was held on January 2, 2006. The thirty-nine cents of land along with Agape Bhavan was officially handed over to KSSS during this function.