Shinod PC and Bindhu have been contributing their salary to a monthly welfare initiative to help poor families for more than 20 years.
“We don’t require all of the funds we generate. We just need a portion of it to exist, and the rest may be utilized to help those in need,” says Shinod PC, who has been on a quest to aid disadvantaged families with his wife Bindhu.
This couple from Kodungallur, Kerala, has been contributing a significant percentage of their salary as a ‘benefit pension’ to numerous underprivileged families in the surrounding villages for the past two decades.
The pair also operates a sevana kendram (digital service center) in their house, where they offer free services to the underprivileged, such as assisting them in taking advantage of government-sponsored programmes and services.
“People believe that money is the most precious asset in their lives and that it is the only source of happiness. However, time is more precious than money,” Shinod remarks.
“After realizing this, I took the VRS (Voluntary Retirement Scheme) from my government position to focus on social services,” says Shinod, who worked at the LIC as an administrative officer.
Shinod began helping people when he obtained his first job in 1996, and his wife Bindhu joined him after they married in 1998.
” It was a pre-arranged union.
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Shinod claims he had to work as a newspaper boy at the age of 10 since he grew up in an impoverished home.
” He found solace in reading during his boyhood while he was going through difficult times. “
“I used to help folks in every way I could,” he continues.
My wife and I, on the other hand, did not start this endeavour in a systematic way until 2008.”
For their charity, the pair has simply utilized their salary and arrears.
“We were able to save a lot of money after paying on our fundamental requirements,” he explains.
Starting in 2008, the couple collaborated with ASHA personnel to develop a framework around their gifts and began distributing money as a welfare stipend to needy and worthy households.
“We wanted to make sure that the money went to the proper people who deserved it.
As a result, we enlisted the assistance of local ASHA personnel to gather information on families in need. “We used to provide them a data sheet on which they could collect information on the families who were applying for financial help,” he explains.
“We had specified a few parameters to identify the most worthy households from the datasheet,” he continues.
One of our criteria was to avoid households with drinkers, smokers, or other substance abusers.
Following their identification of needy families, the pair went to their homes to verify the information and then distributed money from their salary as a monthly welfare benefit.
” We don’t market or promote our service; it’s all done by ASHA employees.”
He explains, “Our efforts were later publicized by word of mouth.” “We both were salaried back then and we had more money to contribute,” he adds of the sum they provided to each household.
We provided financial assistance to around 150 households.
Every first Sunday of the month, we gave these families between Rs 300 and Rs 2,000.
Other households were chosen for gifts when the beneficiaries’ financial situation improved over time.
After the government raised the amount given out as part of the social welfare pension programs, many families were able to have a consistent monthly income and the number of dependents fell.
Shinod spent the most of his time to charity after leaving VRS roughly five years ago. I used to get roughly Rs 1 lakh in salary before retirement, but now I get a pension that is almost a fifth of what I used to get.
My wife, on the other hand, continues to work.
As a result, we are still able to send out donations, although not as much as we used to.
Also, the number of families we assist has shrunk to roughly 30 presently,” he adds.
The pair has ceased working with ASHA employees since they now have more free time.
“Now we go to the destitute households and distribute the donations,” he says. In addition to monthly welfare payments, the couple frequently makes one-time gifts.
“We can’t give you a precise amount we spend on charity every month, but we disburse around Rs 20,000 in welfare pensions alone every month.”
We also contribute lump sums on a regular basis for things like medical crises, weddings, and so on,” explains Shinod.
Santhakumari, a 72-year-old lady, is one of the welfare pension scheme’s recipients.
” They have been assisting me for the past two to three years.
Aside from that, the government provides me with a monthly welfare stipend. “
Aside from contributions, the pair runs a sevana kendra (digital service center) where the needy may get free services. As a result, we assist them in obtaining those advantages.
In 2021, we began the sevana kendram in this manner “Bindhu expresses his opinion.
“We don’t keep a record of what we have spent,” she answers when asked how much money they had spent on charity thus far.
The couple has two kids, one of whom works in Bengaluru and the other of whom is pursuing an engineering degree at a government institution.”