“Happiness is the only Selfish motive”says Anoop G, Managing Trustee of Arm of Joy
The story started two decades ago, 1999-2000, when Anoop and Rekha who were studying in the same college were discussing about a future together. Both had a common thought about the life ahead of them. They agreed on doing something to make the society better , not big things but something in our capacity and yes, they finally achieved in becoming the ‘Arm of Joy’.
This gets even more interesting when I realized that Anoop, in 2008, retired from his professional career at the age of 28.
At a time when people will be building their careers, Anoop wrote an email to the Managing Director of Malayala Manorama where he was working, Mr. Mamman Mathew. Anoop mentioned it as a retirement letter and not a resignation.
“When people want to do some social work, we do not stop them” replied Mr. Mathew to his email.
Anoop had decided that he will not take a professional career path post this stint with Malayala Manorama. Anoop went back to Calicut and decided to follow his passion.
“My passion is to travel, write, read, organize many things and social activities. To pursue all these, I decided to quit and follow my heart”
“It all started with the birthday of our son, Madhavan. We asked our friends, family and colleagues to send us books for the birthday party. We set up a library in Calicut with the books received by us. I decided to quit from Manorama right after this occasion. ” mentioned Anoop.
“It was not easy for people to digest my decision.” added Anoop. Indeed, a person retiring at the age of 28 definitely would have got many eye brows raised around him.
After moving to Calicut, he went on a two years journey to capture the Kerala Yuvajanothsavam event and published an encyclopedia of this yearly event, which is the platform for students to showcase their talent. It got him lot of accolades from media. This gave a confidence to the people around him and they realized that his plan is not to sit idle.
In 2015, he along with his spouse Rekha decided to start Arm Of Joy, a NGO focused in cultivating Smiles around. In the last 6 years, Arm of Joy has been the reason for 300+ occasions and thousands of Smiles in Calicut.
An interview spreading Smiles: You can watch the interview of Anoop on YouTube where he talks about all these in detail or listen to podcast channels mentioned below.
My wife is earning for my family. She is a lawyer and a trademark attorney.
“It was not my dream alone. It was an easy decision when both of us were thinking in the same line.” said Anoop about the the thought of starting Arm Of Joy.
It is interesting to note that ARM is abbreviation of their names Anoop, Rekha & Madhavan.
“We never go for fund raising. We do not have staff, no office. But from first month itself we got contributions and received around 10 lakhs INR in the first year. The kind of activities we do, is to make people happy. Whatever they need , we take them for excursions, movie, dinner in luxury restaurant,. Something that can boost their self esteem. We do not go for sponsoring food and all.”
“It is like match the following. We regularly visit orphanages and old age homes in the city. Whenever people come up with a budget then we try to match the requirements. We have been focusing on setting up basic infra at these places. Constructed a football turf in an orphanage, a park, etc. – things for exploring Joy. ” explained Anoop about the process.
On one such visit to Mahila Mandiram, we found paintings all over the walls of this place. After enquiring they understood that it was done by a lady who was from Bangladesh. She was trapped by a sex traffic mafia and brought here.
“I was literally stunned. A lady who has gone through such turmoil has done beautiful paintings”
‘She handed over a book full of poems and short stories written by her in Bangla. I wanted to do something to boost her self esteem. With the help of my friend, Indu in Bangladesh, she got it translated to English and then I translated the poems & stories to Malayalam. My friend Anupama who is a journalist helped in translating the poems and I translated the stories. We published this as a book. She was good with her painting as well. I gifted her a lot of canvas and paintings. We organised painting exhibition of her paintings and all the paintings were sold. The proceeds were handed over to her. Both these events was noticed by many people. This had positive as well as negative effects. Finally Bangladesh embassy reached out and helped this lady as well as other ladies who were from Bangladesh who were stuck here.’ Anoop spoke about one of the major project carried out by Arm Of Joy.
“We consider charity is not a positive word. We were looking for another word which will convey our thought and decided Joy.
Doing things for others is not Charity, but sheer JOY” – adds Anoop talking about the motto of Arm Of Joy.
The sponsors are their friends / friends of friends and people who have heard about Arm Of Joy, who donate during occasion like birthdays, wedding anniversaries, any special achievement at work place and also as remembrance during the death anniversaries of near and dear ones.
A quick look at the different types of work carried out by Arm of Joy will bring a Smile in the face of the reader as well. The occasions vary from recharging the cable connections of old age homes, newspaper / magazine subscriptions , taking them to movies, lunch at a luxurious restaurant (which helps in enhancing their self esteem), building football turfs to building smart connected rooms with audio visual facilities for orphanage and many more.
The Gateway (Taj) hotel extended a hearty welcome for girls from these houses and also helped by giving high discounts, arranged a talk session, etc. Anoop added that there are many corporates like Tata who are happy to help us.
While answering to the question ‘Why are you taking them to a luxury restaurant and not using that money to provide food for 4-5 days?’ – Anoop said “This helps in building their self esteem and confidence”
“Whenever we plan something, there will be people to join hands”
Gokulam FC players came down to inaugurate the football turf. The turf was built for Free Birds children. During Covid, the turf turned out to be a great place for them to keep themselves active.
The list goes on – taking photographs for Aadhar cards, providing cupboard, Mirrors, tooth brush stand, providing mic stand, washing machine, toys and toys shelf, utensils and tiffin carriers, table fans, perfumes, under garments – Gifting a small set of things for the ladies at DD Home, a rehabilitation centre for leprosy patients abandoned by relatives, building poultry farm, taking them to picnics, circus, etc.
It also includes taking them to movies like Maheshinte prathikaram, Uyire, Finals, Lion King, Action Hero Biju, etc. I am sure that even the actors of these movies will be happy when they hear about this cause.
Currently there are 951 event expenses updated on the website of Arm Of Joy. This includes the bank statement, statement of expenses for each occasion in detail and complete transparency is maintained in all the activities.
Arm Of Joy is focused in bringing smiles to many people in Calicut. Anoop and Rekha have no plans to expand to other cities as they are the only ones who are taking up all the work. It is amazing to see how a lovely thought can help lots of people. Kudos to Anoop and Rekha.
I hope to see many such Arm Of Joy getting started in other cities across the globe. There are many people like Anoop and Rekha who have walked this path and it has indeed been an extended arm of joy for many in distress.
A great example of following your heart and passion. This one with a noble thought of spreading JOY.
More about Arm Of Joy: http://www.armofjoy.org/aboutus.php
Anoop also got an entry into the Limca Book of Records in 2013. He wrote & directed a short film ‘Switch Off’, which used only gadgets (no actors, no dialogues).