Hidden in full view.
But not anymore now.
The relentless work of Ashadeep- a mental health society in picking up mentally ill women from the streets of Guwahati and elsewhere has finally got them some reward with Sir Ratan Tata Trust, Mumbai bringing out a publication for the first time by the name of "Hidden in Full View-- Stories of Hope from Ashadeep".
The publication says that over the past five years, Ashadeep has been a beacon of hope to the lives of destitute and abandoned women and has provided them not merely with a home, but a haven and a sanctuary. Of the 284 women rescued, this collection of vignettes sketches briefly the stories of around twenty.
The book presents the stories of these women for the first time in public and says that the initial years were a maelstrom of events, crowded with operations, strategies, counsels, searches and excursions both pleasant and strange. " But as Ashadeep gains experience in pre and post rescue methods, the number of failures fall, facilities improve and support-- official and otherwise-- grows, making work easier.
" It is a humbling thought , that in spite of the persistent and arduous job the staff of Ashadeep faces, the role played by them is always presented in a self-efficacing and muted manner and there is seldom a self congratulatory note or a pat on their own backs for the success they have achieved in the face of adverse conditions. The fact that Ashadeep fills a vacuum in the area of mental health in the state of Assam cannot be denied" Dr Firdaus Gandavia secretary of Sir Ratan Tata Trust says in the foreword.
It further says that " our lives are touched by the accounts of these tormented and persecuted women. Some of them wander away away from home under influence of the illness while others have been abandoned by their families. One only wishes that their stories could have been longer".
The author of the publication is Ronojoy Sen an architect from Guwahati.
Ashadeep started in 1996 in response to the lack of facilities for psychiatric rehabilitation in Assam. It began its work with homeless mentally ill women in 2005 rescuing 43 women of the streets in the first year. It has reunited these women with their families in states like Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Chattisgarh and Gujarat.
On the bringing out of the publication by Sir Ratan Tata Trust, Mukul Goswami co-founder of Ashadeep told The Telegraph " that the trust has acknowledged our work and the sighting of mentally ill women lying on the streets has become rare now though not completely finished.
" We follow up the cases of the reunited ones so that there is no relapse" he said.
It started 'Navachetana'- a home for homeless mentally ill women in Guwahati with the help of Sir Ratan Tata Trust in an attempt to rehabilitate the mentally affected homeless women lying on the streets.
"The experience of Navachetana has shown that between 65-70 percent of the rehabilitated women can be reintegrated with their families. 15-20 percent of them become functional, however, their families cannot be traced, and 10 percent of them are severely disabled, and hence, locating their families and reintegrating them is very difficult" Goswami says.