A Visit to Hombelaku Manipal . . .

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We played musical chairs with some of the residents there…
Learning Psychiatry was an eye opener for us. Mental illness is like a dark cloud that harbours around the mind and wouldn’t go away. It has lasting impact on the patient’s social life and cognitive functions. During the whole time in Psychiatry posting at KMC hospital, I came across patients who smiled whole day long, patients who spoke to thin air, a patient who thought he was controlled by machines and stuck a cotton bud into his ear, claiming that it was an antenna… you may laugh, but mental illness is a serious issue. Not only it affects patients, but it also affects the family too.

That’s where Hombelaku comes into place. We Malaysian students are fortunate enough to visit Hombelaku – Rehabilitation Centre for the Chronic Psychiatrically Ill. Most of us didn’t know the existence of Hombelaku in Manipal until we attended our postings and were told about it. 
This mental rehabilitation centre focus on educating and training the patients to go about their daily activities like grooming themselves and providing vocational training for them to earn some money. 
As I entered Hombelaku for the first time, I felt a sense of grief washed over me. Don’t get me wrong, the place was well built and it was sparkling clean. It has this ‘homely’ feel to it too but perhaps I know the condition of the residents in there, I felt a pang of sympathy and sadness for them. We were warmly greeted by some of the residents there. During that few hours, we managed to talk to some patients and gained some insight to their daily activities. Then, one of our group members decided to hold an End Posting party in the centre together with the residents, in hope of bringing some joy to the residents.
So, last Sunday, we decided to visit Hombelaku with some snacks and entertainment…

IMG 5266Did some origami together with them…
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IMG 5253And even did some handpainting together.

IMG 5288Trying out different colours and mixtures of paint!
IMG 5293Snack time! The residents loved the snacks we bought for them and were beaming brightly after snacking. =)

IMG 5295A card painted by one of the residents there. It was on sale in hope of earning some money. I must say, even I myself could not paint this well!
IMG 5300Finally, we ended the ‘party’ with 2 songs- ‘I have a dream’ and ‘Kuch Kuch Hotta Hei’, while they enjoyed with with icecreams.

At the end of the party, a resident approached me and told me that I was very pretty and she likes me. Boy, that made my day. =)

Well, dear Manipal-ians, if you have the time, please do visit Hombelaku. They’re in need of volunteers to teach the residents there. If you could make some donation to the centre, it would be deeply appreciated too! Visiting Hombelaku is truly an transcending experience!


  1. Several patients lack access to a financially viable and effective rehabilitation program leading to a loss of productive years and adding to family burden. For reasons ranging from lack of time to lack of resources, psychiatrists often find themselves helpless in the face of chronic psychiatric disability. These observations led to the idea of setting up a rehabilitation centre for the chronically ill psychiatric patients.

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