Dr. JACOB CHERIAN was born on July 14th 1923 at Kottara a small village in Kollam District, Kerala. From childhood he had a religious bend and mind and committed to dedicated Christian service. After completing his graduation from the University of Kerala, he joined the Miraj Medical School in Maharashtra and then he got a place in R.G Kar. Medical College in Calcutta and passed M.B.B.S in 1956. During the year 1961 itself he was conferred upon FRCS by Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh and he received FRCS from Royal College of Surgeons Glasgow. With these highly professional degrees he decided to serve the rural people who needed his service more than anybody else. He landed up Oddanchatram a drought hit very backward village in Tamil Nadu, with small group of Doctors and Nurses and started a small health centre for the poor people at Oddanchatram with his wife and Dr. A.K. Tharian. Later in 1965 he moved to Ambilikkai another remote village in Dindigul District to establish a Community Health centre. The services were given to the people irrespective of caste, creed and religion. Thus Ambilikkai becomes his centre of activity. The early days of his life was very hard but through contribution and cooperation of the people he could establish 19 institution in the field of Medical, health and education and social work. His emphasis on community health services to the rural people covering nearly 1000 villages. His late father died at age of 103 and his name found a place in Guinness book as a priest worked 85 years in rural area of Kerala.
EDUCATION: (GENERAL& TECHNICAL)
Education is another area where his attention was drawn next. As the Literacy rate during that time was very low due to lack of educational and training centres. He started an English Medium Higher secondary school and Tamil medium higher secondary school and professional colleges like Engineering, , Polytechnic, ITI, Nursing and an Arts and Science College etc. A training institute was also established to provide health -related courses to the youth. Due to his pioneering efforts literacy rate in the area has been considerably improved (doubled up) about 3775 students are getting coaching in these institutions of whom nearly 50% are employed after graduation the first year itself. He believes very firmly education (enlightenment) is foundation of all development.
No wonder he is called “AYYA” a respectable and loving term for elders by all people of the area. Dr. Jacob Cherian started a Leprosy hospital at Ambilikkai and also a Leprosy Rehabilitation and Training school. He belongs to the old school of surgeons who used to operate from head to foot. There is no organ which has not touched and operated. On the -record he has performed more that 25000 of surgical proceedings.
President of India has awarded Padmabhushan to Dr. Ayya in January 1999 God is never a debtor (he used to say) is proved by the fact that the central Government probed thoroughly and recommended him receives the distinguished National Award for his distinguished services to rural India; He always filled with Thankfulness and praises what the Lord Jesus Christ has done through him in nuke and corner of our country. He had high respect for moral values and ethical principles in the medical and social scenarios.
Dr. Mrs. Mary Cherian was born on 25th November 1928 at Tiruvandrum. Her father was a professor in physics in the university college, Trivandrum. Her father Mr. M.V. Chacko and mother Kunjamma chacko were members of the Marthoma Church. In the year 1946 she joined the Christian Medical College at Vellore, North Arcot District in Tamil Nadu and received MBBS degree from Madras University in the year 1952. During the year 1954 she got married to Dr. Jacob Cherian who received the Padmabhushan award in 1999. She did DMCW from Calcutta and got the Gold Medal from Calcatta University. She went to U.K with her husband in 1958. She passed DCH from London and MRCP (Paediatric speciality) from Edinburgh university and MRCP (General Medicine) from Glasgow university in 1959 and returned to Oddanchtram a remote village in Tamil Nadu along with her husband who did FRCS in U.K and established the Christian Fellowship Hospital at Oddanchatram with Dr. A.K. Tharian a friend and a well wisher. Later in 1965 she along with her husband Dr. Jacob Cherian moved to Ambilikkai another nearby remote village near Oddanchatram to establish a Community Health Centre.
Dr. Mary Cherian’s commitment to social service and her sincere effort to mitigate the sufferings of the downtrodden people is highly appreciable. She dedicated her entire life and profession for the services of the poor. British trained double FRCP, Dr. Mary Cherian could have worked in a Metropolitan or a Mega city and could have earned like a Millionaire. But she came to a remote area like Ambilikkai and gave yeoman service to poor people. She will be loved and remembered by the people who received her services. In brief her contribution in the field of education and medicine can be considered as a model which can be replicated by others.
Dr. Mary Cherian has also published many books on health subjects. She has written three Books namely “Mother and Child”, “Basic Medicine” and “Child Health”. All these books provide very valuable information for Public and Auxiliary Health Workers.
She is a good orator and leads a simple life. Her language is plain and simple. Her speeches are appealing even to ordinary audiences. She is lovingly and admirably called as Dr. Amma who kindle the light for the improvement of rural people.