Amid the mad rush of city lives, there are people whose humanitarian gestures emerge as a dash of green in an otherwise grey land.
Meet Selin, a ‘good samaritan’ who sets aside a regular fraction of her earnings to feed the hungry and destitute. The motto ‘if you want to do something, you can make a big difference’, is what keeps her pushing forward.
Financial constraints have not deterred Palathuruthiyil Selin, who lives in a small house located on the Market Syrian Church Road in Ernakulam, from serving the poor. For the last five decades, she has been feeding the hungry without a break. Every day, she opens her doors to the homeless and hungry, and provide them with wholesome food between 9 am and 4 pm at her home. The meal comprises matta rice, fish curry, vegetarian delicacies and pickle. “I have been doing this for the last 47 years. Initially, I had to battle the scourge of my own poverty to serve free food to the poor. I will continue this mission until my last breath,” says the 75-year-old who is now suffering from various age-related ailments.
The person who spurred Selin on her path of social service was her husband. “My husband was a railway khalasi. He was a very generous person and was very particular about not publicising these activities. I have stuck to his advice and did not stop serving the poor even after his demise. He used to draw a salary of Rs 1,000 and spend half of it to serve the needy. I stood by his side by contributing to his charity acts by selling snacks in the locality. After his death, that was our family’s only source of income. Despite the adversities I faced, I managed to carry on while making sure that our children get a high-level education. When they got a job, they started to donate a fixed amount every month to feed the poor. I have never received a penny from outsiders for this cause,” Selin says with pride.
Her day starts at 2 am. After offering prayers at a nearby church, she goes to the local market to purchase vegetable and fish. A neighbour Mercy, who helps her with the cooking, would start preparing the food by 7 am. By 9 am, there will be a long queue in front of her house and the duo will be busy till evening feeding hungry stomachs. Selin, who lives near the residences of Cardinal George Alencherry and Archbishop Francis Kallarakkal, has been able to do this without break for the last five decades.
Photos of saints and family members adorned the walls of her small room. “It is in the faces of the poor that I have the best glimpse of God,” she says.
“Once I fed an ailing person who later collapsed and died on the wayside. I comforted myself that I did not let him die starving.” Selin’s words reflect her sense of satisfaction in dedicating her energy and time to provide a calming effect in the lives of the underprivileged people.