Freedom Artists – Viyyur Jail
At Society of St Vincent de Paul we always wanted to make a jail visit. Our weekly meeting attendance register always left the column blank for years.
Last year some members suggested in the Area Council Meeting of SSVP that the yearly pilgrimage should be to a jail.
I contacted the Trichur Central Council President who gave me the details of society member of a conference near Viyyur, Bro. Pauly. I visited Viyyur and Bro. Pauly who knew officers Mr Sudeep and Mr Aneesh took me to the Central Prison.
The welfare officer questioned our genuine interest in the jail visit. The welfare officer Mr Santosh told us that many delegations visited the jail like a zoo. He also asked how the visit will benefit the jail mates as no food/eatables were allowed inside and direct monetary support was not required.
At this time an idea flashed my mind which came from the “The Week” Magazine. At Bangalore some NGO had distributed canvas and art material to jail mates, auctioned the art work and passed on the proceeds for the welfare of the jail mates. The welfare officer liked the idea and showed more interest. He asked if we could arrange a trainer. We said YES SURE!
As I contacted a long time friend who connected me to Mr Jinesh who runs a web designing outfit. Mr Jinesh arranged Sivaraman Master a retired drawing teacher from Nellayi.
Next visit I went with Sivaraman Master to meet the welfare officer. The Freedom Artist Training camp was planned with twenty classes of two hours each. We requested for a evaluation of the jail mates which could be trained.
Great encouragement came from Mr Ebenser Chullikat (Y’sMen International), Mr Thomas George Putuparambil and Mr Shibu Joseph as monetary contributions.
Thirteen ‘pupils’ eagerly turned up for the first class. We gave pencils, drawings sheets, erasers and sharpeners. Sivaraman master asked them to draw a vase with different flowers from their imagination. I was impressed, some of the artwork were of good quality. I felt sorry when I had to collect back the pencil sharpeners as per the jail safety instructions of the welfare officers.
When I shook hands and encouraged the freedom artists I felt like meeting god in person.