Chennai-based NGO Udavum Karangal successfully reunites a missing woman with her family in Chhattisgarh
Mythrin came to live in Udavum Karangal 28 years ago. A socially conscious person who knew about the work done by the Chennai-based NGO which shelters and rehabilitates destitute women informed the organisation that a woman who did not seem to know any Tamil was wandering aimlessly on the streets of the city. Social workers brought her to the home, and she was given food, clothing and shelter. She settled in very well, and seemed content to remain there. She never talked about her own home or family.
Mythrin’s is not an isolated case. As per the National Crime Records Bureau, around 4 lakh crimes against women were registered during 2019 (latest available data), according to a press release from Udavum Karangal. Most of the perpetrators of these crimes are the women’s husbands or in-laws. Women are also victims of assaults with the intention of outraging their modesty. Sometimes, when there are deaths in the family, the units break up, the women fall prey to mental issues and are thrown out of their homes. Many of these women fall into the hands of abusers, usually lorry drivers, who abandon them far away from their native places. Some meet with kindness from strangers, others with cruelty.
Udavum Karangal, a 40-year-old social service organisation, has helped many such destitute women who are found on the streets with no resources, and sometimes even pregnant. They are rehabilitated and many are successfully reunited with their families across India, and even in countries like Germany, the Netherlands and Austria. And now, Mythrin has joined the list of women reunited with their loved ones. After nearly three decades of living at the Udavum Karangal home, she revealed that she hailed from Village Deori in Chhattisgarh. A social worker immediately contacted some people there and shared Mythrin’s photo on WhatsApp and Facebook. She was soon identified by one Dilip Yadav in Deori as his wife Gurubari’s sister.
Gurubari revealed that Mythrin was the eldest daughter of her father’s first wife. She said Mythrin was married off when she was 20 years old but had some mental health issues. One day, her husband tied her to a tree in the village and left her there all night. Some local people freed her and, since then, she had been missing. Gurubari said Mythrin’s husband had since relocated to Odisha.
Gurubari came to Udavum Karangal on November 28 this year and was overjoyed to be reunited with her sister. She said Mythrin had been missing for 35 years, and she couldn’t believe her sister was still alive. Mythrin, who is now 55, was eligible for a share of their father’s house, and would be able to live there when she returned to Deori, Gurubari added. She thanked Vidyaakar, the founder of Udavum Karangal, for his help in restoring Myrthrin to her family.
Gurubari was given one month’s supply of psychiatric medicines for her sister, and told to contact Udavum Karangal in case of any medical need. Though Mythrin was a bit sad to leave the people who had been her friends for 28 years, she went with Gurubari to resume her life in Deori, and Udavum Karangal has another success story to be proud about.
Editor’s note: Mental health is a pertinent and important issue of our times and affects many, or probably all of us in some way or the other. Yet, it is a subject we’d rather not much talk about. A lot has to be done to raise awareness about mental health issues and to get more and more people to support those in need of mental health care. It is in this context that we highlight such stories, to show how ordinary, poor people are affected and how organisations like Udavum Karangal keep working ceaselessly at the grassroots to try and give succour. We need to talk more about such work and share similar stories.