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CHILDREN'S WELFARE

Mukkam Muslim Orphanage - Nurturing the little souls
By Maqbool Ahmed Siraj
Twice winner of the National Child Welfare Award, the Mukkam Muslim Orphanage is also a monument of the legendry philanthropy of a zamindar family of Kerala.


But for Mukkam Muslim Orphanage (MMO), the little town of Mukkam would have remained a small and nondescript village tucked in the backyard of Calicut district of Kerala. The thriving, little town today pulsates with life that mainly revolves around the elegant MMO campus. Curiously, the credit for the entire institution, that today nurtures around 1,200 little souls, goes to a single family presided by the grand patriarch Moi Haji in 1950s. Moi Haji, his brothers and their sons owned 16,000 acres of land between them. They grew teak trees and traded in its valuable timber and elephants caught from the luxuriant forests of Western Ghats.

Moi Haji family's philanthropy was legendary. The vast chunks of land they owned was donated in later decades for churches, temples, mosques, schools and hospitals in and around the tiny village. They thus earned the love and respect of all. This manifests itself in the strong fraternal bonds seen among Hindus and Muslims in the area. The village stood by river Iruvazhinhipuzha which has been immortalized by Malayalam novelist S. K. Pattakkad.

Around 1956, Moi Haji thought of setting up an orphanage to educate and train the poor, orphaned and destitute kids. Thus was born the Mukkam Muslim Orphanage (MMO) which has been adjudged the winner of the National Child Welfare Award by the Government of India twice within a span of three decades i.e., 1982 and 2008.

The spirit of charity still runs in the family which manages the MMO today which over the years has developed into an institution of repute with vast paraphernalia. The family has endeared every one, be they Hindus, Muslims or Christians, in and around Mukkam. All swear by their integrity. No wonder, Mohammed Mon Haji, vice president of the MMO, is an elected member of the Calicut Zilla Panchayat too.

The MMO is today one of the largest institutions in the country engaged in the welfare of the kids. Says Mon Haji, it has around 1,200 children, nearly 125 from states like Bihar , Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Delhi and West Bengal. Girls are slightly larger in number i.e., 645. Haji informs that number of children from Kerala is dwindling and hard to find as the State has the best Human Development Index in the country. They are increasingly looking for new inmates from other states. Earlier this month (i.e., July) a new batch of 45 children from Bihar joined the orphans at Mukkam.

All those who enter the portals of MMO at Mukkam, are turned out as educated, trained and productive individuals. The MMO runs several Industrial Training Centres (equivalent to ITI in other states) and Teachers Training Centres (TTCs), English and Malayalam medium schools up to senior secondary level, a couple of madrassas, several mosques, , Hira Residential School, a working women's hostel and a degree college at the apex.

Says Academic advisor Dr. Abdul Gafoor, around 65 former inmates are currently employed either as teachers, wardens or clerks within the three campuses of the MMO. Even a history lecturer in the degree college is a former inmate. Nearly 400 of the alumni who secured certificates in skills like plumbing, air-conditioning, electrician, carpentry, welding or electronics, and pharmacy education from the ITCs, are today working in the Gulf. They often return to their alma mater with donations and blessings. The MMO has recently started even providing small houses to such of inmates who have lost both parents. Matrimonial alliances are set up among such girl and boy inmates and five such couples have so far been given houses.

Over the years, Mukkam Orphanage has expanded its campus. It operates out of three such premises today. Founder Moi Haji donated 15 acres for the main campus in the Mukkam town and later donated another 157 acres at Manassery, five kms from the town. While the main campus has dormitories for girl, the Manassery campus set up on the undulating terrain of a hills, hosts all institutions for boys and the degree college where students from all communities and both genders study. The Orphanage has a workforce of 300 employees, of whom a little above 100 are non-Muslims, mainly teachers for various institutions that are aided by the Government.

While most inmates end up doing vocational courses, of late, good many have put up excellent performance. Thus two boys are now doing engineering in Kochi and Trivandrum while two inmates have been sent to Aligarh Muslim University for civil services coaching and M.Com. Nearly a dozen are in degree courses in various colleges.

Earlier this month, Gulf based Keralite businessman Galfar Mohammad Ali announced a donation of Rs. 10 million for the various expansion plans of the Mukkam Orphanage. Another businessman from the Gulf, C. K. Menon who also visited the campus, declared that he would pay for expenses borne on 100 inmates during the next 10 years. The Orphanage invites people to donate rice, of which they need 1,000 quintals annually. The MMO has recently launched an ambitious drive to collect this quantity of rice from donors each of whom can donate Rs. 2,400 for a quintal of the commodity.

Address: Mukkam Muslim Orphanage, P.O. Mukkam, PIN 673602, Kerala, Ph: 0495- 2297122, 2297522, 2291536, 3215877, website: www.mmomukkam.org ,mukkamorphanage@gmail.com