Abhaya was born out of a deep concern for the helpless mental patients of the Government Mental Hospitals of Kerala. The relentless efforts of ABHAYA focused the attention of the public, the Government and in particular the Judiciary, on the pitiable conditions of the mental hospitals.
The most significant achievement of ABHAYA was that after 150 years of isolation, the mental hospitals of the State were thrown open to public scrutiny. Consequently the mental health scenario of Kerala has undergone a healthy change.
Started as a home for destitute women (Athani) and a day-care centre for the mentally ill, Abhaya has expanded to care for drug addicts at ‘Bodhi’, house discarded children of socially rejected women at ‘Abhaya Bala’, and provide free accommodation at ‘Mitra’, where women who have once again found their feet live, paying just expenses. It’s become a commune that encloses the complexities and accommodates the ugly dregs of society—an attempt to replace the ugliness with compassion and hope.
"I too am a refugee and I am here because of the kindness of India. Let this land be a refuge for the homeless and unfortunate," the Dalai Lama had said while laying the foundation stone for Abhayagramam in Thiruvananthapuram in 1992. It did become a refuge, for the destitute, the mentally ill, the drug addicts and children in distress and women who have lost the security of own homes. The organisation has been nurtured since its formation in 1985 by poet-activist Sugathakumari.