Anitha K, 38, from a small village in Kasaragod, Kerala, never imagined that, with an education up to the tenth standard, she could secure a job and lead a fulfilling life with a purpose. However, her journey from four walls of her kitchen to becoming a vital part of a healthcare institute is reshaping not only her own narrative but also inspiring those around her.
For the last 18 years, Anitha has been an integral part of the Institute of Applied Dermatology (IAD), a not-for-profit institute at Ulliyathaduka in Kasaragod where patients from India and abroad undergo integrative medical treatment for Lymphedema, Lymphatic Filariasis, and other chronic skin diseases.
Anitha is a trained massage therapist who works in coordination with senior dermatologists and Ayurvedic doctors at the IAD to bring back smiles to the faces of those affected by Lymphedema and Lymphatic Filariasis.
As a massage therapist, Anitha’s expertise plays a crucial role in reducing the swelling on the bodies of the patients due to the damaged Lymphatic system. Her expertise not only brings relief to the patients but has also become a source of economic empowerment for her and her family.
“I once thought my dreams were confined to the boundaries of my small village. But determination and skill can transform a limited horizon into an expansive journey of empowerment. I am proud and happy that I am an earning member of the family and contribute to the healthcare system in the country,” Anitha said.
It’s not only Anitha; many women in Kasaragod, for whom opportunities were limited, have found a new sense of purpose and identity after IAD, recognising the potential within its community, provided specialised training programs to equip individuals like Anitha with skills that could not only transform their lives but also contribute meaningfully to the healthcare sector.
“Right from our inception in 1999, we have been following a policy of empowering the local community. We provide training to the women who are ready to put in their best to learn and deliver quality care to the patients. We are really proud of our women staff whom we have recruited locally. In fact, their dedication and hard work are helping us to provide quality care to the patients,” said IAD founder-director Dr. S R Narahari.
IAD director Dr. K S Prasanna said Anitha’s story is a testament to the transformative power of education and skill training in fostering empowerment. “Women staff in our institute stand as a symbol of resilience, determination, empowerment, and progress,” she added.
IAD has emerged as a transformative force, particularly for the women who make up the majority of its workforce. In a region where traditional roles often confined women to domestic spheres, this institute has become a symbol of progress, challenging societal norms and fostering a culture of inclusivity.
“Of the total 34 staff at IAD in Kasargod, 24 are women, and the majority of them are from Kasaragod. We are happy that women, many of whom had limited opportunities in the past, are now not only accessing healthcare services but actively participating in providing them,” said Dr. Narahari. From doctors and nurses to administrative staff and health workers, women play a pivotal role at every level in the institute. “This intentional effort to empower local women has boosted the quality of life for several women in Kasaragod,” he added.
IAD, which opened sub centres in Lucknow, Varanasi, Patna and Begusarai, has given opportunities for local women in these places. Nearly 50 per cent of staff at these centres are women.