When everyone leaves them to die, we have one caring hand who takes care of the destitutes as her own siblings, meet Yvonne Lomax who runs a destitute home, “Home for Homeless” in Ganeshpur, Belgaum.
Big books/talks on corporate social responsibility is now, a big fad and big corporates have huge team working for a better CSR, but look at this lady who stands strong all alone and runs the “Home for Homeless” at Ganeshpur. The lady never thinks twice before she picks up a sick person lying on the streets or even untreated at hospitals.
After her husband’s death(Dr.Raymond) Yvonne Lomax shifted to Belgaum which was her home town. She came back to Belgaum making a plan that she would now care for the destitutes.
She has a 26 year daughter who is mentally challenged and suffering from a kidney ailment, where only 65% of her kidney is in working condition and every couple of hours urine has to be physically removed. Doctors say that it is very close to miracle that she is being living without Dialysis for over 18 years now.
Yvonne even at this age is very active and takes care of the people who are not cared of. She visits the civil hospital on a regular basis to take care of the people who are not cared for.
While in Goa, she had attended to a few sick and needy individuals. Back in Belgaum, she decided to work seriously towards providing shelter for the destitutes. She was getting a handsome pension she decided to work for the people who need care and are not cared for. To begin with she started to visit the Civil hospital, where she saw people lying on the floor untreated for their wounds, not bathed for over months.
One day Yvonne found a woman by name Kasturi lying in a drain with worms eating her wounds on the head. She brought her home, cleaned the wounds and gave her first aid. When Kasturi’s condition worsened, Yvonne took her to the district hospital and got her wounds treated. After three months of proper treatment Kasturi recovered.
In this manner she started treating people and many started leaving the mentally challenged at her door as well. Yvonne’s ashram also shelters five old women, who were rejected by their children. Yvonne takes care of these bedridden people with the help of two helpers. Cleaning the inmates, washing their clothes, giving them a hair cut and shaving the male inmates to entertaining them, Yvonne does almost everything for the inmates of her “Home for Homeless”. She has even purchased a van to take the dead to the graveyard and to bring the helpless to the ashram.
But this journey of hers has not been a smooth, she was alleged of selling kidneys and she says, “I have gone to all police stations and I was made to sit there and cases were filed. But in the court nothing could be proved and all cases were withdrawn.”
While speaking to us she also recalled an incident where the mother of a big doctor was kept at the ID (infectious diseases) ward even when she had no infectious disease. She was bed ridden and could not get up and hence she was thrown here. Infact Yvonne adds that the ID ward always has no patients with infectious diseases, but rather has patients who have been left by their relatives as they cant take care of their loved ones and just leave them there and go away never to see them again.
Yvonne recalled also one story of an air Commodore who was brain dead and hence was left to die at the civil hospital. She took care of him and he died after 15 days. After his death the police along with the relatives of the commodore came to her ashram and asked for the gold he was wearing. In-fact all the gold was taken away when they threw him at the civil hospital only, but even then these people came not for the body but for the gold.
She was recently felicitated for her contribution by KLE CBALC at their annual fest.
When we asked her what was your inspiration?
She took a deep breath and said calmly, “Jesus Christ, He is the one who inspires me to do all the work.”
What were the challenges faced?
Yvonne ——- > Challenges are a never ending phenomenon of life, they only leave you when you leave this earth. Most of the people whom I care for are physically challenged and more over mentally torn apart. As they are not cared for or left off, they feel they are of no use to the society. Then they gain some mental illness when in reality they are not ill. If they are allowed to live a good life like if we make them feel special, care for them one can come out of the traumas easily to an extent. I get nail polish and apply it on my nails and also ask my female inmates to do so, they feel shy but I say who will see you apply and then see your self, this builds self esteem in them which is the most needed. I had two ladies who were mentally very sick, they used to tear clothes, beat anyone who came close to them but now they are calm and apply nail polish, cut vegetables.
How do you manage to run the show?
Yvonne ——- > I get a pension with which I mainly run this home. And also there are people who donate on some occasions but mainly people donate in kind like food, grains etc. I never ask for any donations. I collect food after we get a call after a marriage or receptions, we go there collect the unused food and then come back.
How is that you keep yourself so fit?
Yvonne ——- > Laughs and says I am healthy and all that due to Gods grace.I have had two heart surgeries for blockages in 1981 and 1997. I am an Asthamatic and 6 years ago I used to spend two months in hospital each year. Also had a severe migraine problem but since I am doing this work all is well and I am not affected by anything now. I only pray to God- keep my daughter healthy and I will continue to work for the destitute’s.
Some experiences with the Govt you had?
Yvonne ——- > Ohh my experiences with the Govt. has been not so very good. I have complained about things not happening the way they should and I dont fear anyone. But not all hear to me or take action on the complaints I have made which are all genuine. I have also made use of the RTI act many a times to get information and then I have lodged complaints.
Tell us more about social life?
Yvonne ——- > Social life, there is no social life for me. I am like a Sanyasi, I don’t go anywhere. People kept me far away like an out cast when I began this work, I said ok. I used to clean up the beggars, feed them, dress them and I dont feel anything wrong in it. I love doing it and caring for them as no one else is doing.
What is your message to the readers?
Yvonne ——- > Message! I am no big person to give a message, but yes I would love to say, have compassion on the less fortunate. You spend so many millions on luxury; spend a few on these people.
Go to the civil hospital they have no food no medicines even when govt says all medicines should be given free only cheap medicines are given and all others have to be bought for which they have no money.
Think about the poor, I have seen poverty at its best. Do good for some one, spend 5% on the poor.
Yvonne Lomax, Home for the Homeless, Main Road, Ganeshpur Belgaum 591108
Contact No: 9341121020 / 8197772427
Photo Credits: Vinayak Talukar from Belgaum Photographer’s Circle
Thanks to Vinayak & Rotaract Club of Belgaum North.