A damsel not in distress
Jolly Johnson; a woman to be reckoned with! A woman who started her journey with a simple task of selling old newspapers and raising funds. A woman who found her calling when she first visited an old age home and met an emotional and forgotten elder woman. This simple visit got her to make some solid decisions; one of them was starting an organization. A place that focused on kids with disabilities.
Forming the H2O or the Helping Hands Organisation in 2012, along with co-founder Himavathi, was just the beginning of her journey. This organization has helped more than 2000 autistic students. Consisting of a large network of youth volunteers/college students, they have come up with various developmental programs for disabled kids.
Having said this, her journey started when she was as young as in the 10th grade. From taking free tuitions for underprivileged kids to visiting senior citizen homes where she could help, she did her bit whenever and wherever possible. Being a part of several fundraising drives and awareness programs during her college days just made her stronger and has been a stepping-stone to further endeavors.
H20 was mainly created so that differently-abled kids could strive to be independent with the help of various developmental programs. They initially started with music, behavioral, prevocational, and horticulture therapies for kids below 15 years of age. For senior learners, vocational training was done.
One of the volunteers, Gais Amir, who has been with the organization for more than six years, has shared his experiences with regard to the difficulty in raising funds. He says “We have had to face a lot of difficulties regarding funds to carry out these projects. So some of us from the College of Engineering Trivandrum came together and started collecting old newspapers to raise money for the NGO. For the past six years, our college has been able to give around Rs 10,000 every month towards the cause.”
Along with some students of the College of Engineering, Trivandrum, they came up with the idea of raising funds by collecting old newspapers and have managed to collect about Rs. 10,000 per month. There were several other campaigns too; a kite festival is one of the examples.
Along with Gais Amir, several other students all over Kerala have been part and parcel of H2O’s journey. A like-minded bloke, Hari Krishnan of Marian College of Kuttikanam has also been an active contributor. Together they have taught several kids and helped them in activities like paper bag making, candle making, pot painting, vegetable cultivation, and so on.
Jolly has endured building a center for special children wherein they undertake vocational training, therapy sessions as well as family counseling. They also bring in various members of the society, schools, and students from colleges that help in bringing out children from the despicable act of bonded labor. Hygiene and sanitation in villages are just some of the ongoing projects. The volunteers also visit the elderly to ensure that they have someone to talk to and do not feel neglected.
Kerala’s horrible floods of 2018 were just another way in which this organization helped the stranded and needy. They helped with medical and educational supplies and in the rebuilding of homes.
The Points of Light
In November of 2019, Jolly’s work was recognized, and she was been presented “The Points of Light” Award by His Royal Highness Prince Charles while he was touring India. Jeremy Pilmore- Bedford, the British Deputy High Commissioner of Chennai, has commended Jolly’s work. He recognized how she has managed to inspire youngsters who are willing to spare some time towards a noble cause. They have helped vulnerable children and adults towards a better future.
Jolly, being the magnanimous person she is – has dedicated this award to Thankkamani (one of her first beneficiaries), underprivileged and special children, and to her dedicated volunteers who stood shoulder to shoulder with her.
It is her sincerity, commitment, and dedication that has pushed several to learn from her, and together they will surely make a difference.