Thoppumpadi: Decades of hard work in the US helped swell the bank balance of Kulathungal Gasper and his wife Mercy. But back home in Kochi, the money couldn’t buy them happiness and their hearts were empty.
It was then that the couple decided to lend a new meaning to their life: share the fruits of their lifetime labor with the poor and the needy. Today, the couple’s generosity feeds the hungry, provides shelter to many and allays the agony of the poor. Mercy follows Gasper like a shadow as he travels in dust and heat seeking to extend a helping hand to those in agony.
The couple are often inspired by newspaper stories of people in dire straits. They hardly have time to relax. Their rewards: peace and satisfaction.
Gasper was a second engineer at the Integrated Fisheries Project under the Central government when he married Mercy who hails from Pallipuram in 1978. Mercy was a nurse in the US. Gasper joined her there after marriage, and earned an associate degree in medical lab technology. He pursued nursing thereafter and took up that profession.
Young at 67
Gasper and Mercy, both now 67, say they found a new rhythm in life four years ago. They came to know that the 52 differently abled inmates of Karunalayam at Nasareth in Kochi had hardly any facility to get their soiled clothes and sheets cleaned. The couple joined people who quietly work there on Saturdays. They take the first bus from Chellanam in the morning to Karunalayam. After washing the clothes, they return by noon.
It was during a journey that Gasper heard a shocking news from Ottapalam. A mother had ended her life after she was robbed of seven sovereigns purchased for her daughter's wedding pledging her house. Gasper and Mercy traveled to Ottapalam the next day and gifted the girl with a golden rosary of five sovereigns.