INTERVIEW- Mrs Uma Raj, Green Valley Foundation

Green Valley Foundation is a centre for those affected by alcoholism, drugs or other chemicals. It is located at Visakhapatnam, very close to the beach, providing a serene atmosphere along with a lot of greenery and fresh air.  It provides high quality treatment for all its inmates.  Here we talk to the founder of this foundation, Mrs Uma Raj, about her institute among other things.

VP: What made you start an institute for alcoholics?

Mrs. Raj: I come from a very traditional family where no one ever drank alcohol. When I was in class 10, our next door neighbour died of liver Circosis, due to alcoholism. He died a shameful death. I forgot the incident but it left an indelible mark in my mindLater in life, afterI was married,  I realised that this problem was not only for the poor but also the elite classes. I decided to get the necessary qualifications to help all those affected.

VP: What qualifications did you acquire?

Mrs. Raj: I got an MA in Sociology, PG in Industrial Counselling, Psychological Counselling, Food and Nutrition etc. I was privileged to work with Antra, a Mother Theresa Founded Organisation. Dr Das Gupta, Dr K L Narayan, Mr Thomas John, Mrs Santi Ranganathan gave me various opportunities to work for Govt Training programmes.  They also helped me when i was establishing Green Valley Foundation.

VP: What kind of individuals do you get for treatment?

Mrs. Raj: We get all kinds of individuals admitted into our programmes. There is no bar for anything.

VP: Does economical status matter?

Mrs. Raj: No it does not. Alcoholism is a disease with no bar for economical status, education, or religion.  We have patients from all classes’ of society. Services provided for some are even free, or subsidised, according to their financial status.

VP: How long is a programme for?

Mrs. Raj: We offer 7 to 30 days residential care with both medical and psychological therapy along with family therapy. In case of relapse, 5 day programmes are available.

VP: Why Visakhapatnam?

Mrs. Raj: Alcoholism does not affect only the individuals but families also. A lot of misunderstandings take place and everyone goes through trauma. In most cases, only medication and counselling are not enough, the atmosphere also matters. Vizag, with its beach and greenery, and less chaos provides the perfect set up for our institute.

VP: What does your institute do different from others?

Mrs. Raj: The major difference between us and other institutes is the number of people we take in. We have a very small number of in house patients at a time. We also follow tailor made programmes depending on the response of the patient. We have highly qualified personnel handling patients.

VP: What is most satisfying about your job?

Mrs. Raj: For me it is very satisfying to see patients recover after treatment and then come for follow ups and share stories of their new lives. That makes me very happy.

VP: Can alcoholism be curbed in today’s world with these lifestyles?

Mrs. Raj: Yes, if the youth are made aware of the perils of alcohol and how they are ruining their lives. It will not be an easy task and will not be done soon, but it definitely can be done.

VP: Do you ever get disappointed?

Mrs. Raj: I am a confident person with a lot of hope. I give a lot of myself to see that a patient gets what he deserves from this institute, so the question of disappointment never arises.

VP: Any message for the youth?

Mrs. Raj: A single action of ours can save many generations from destruction.

Compiled by
Aparna G