Pullolickal Charitable Trust

Explanatory Letter From Dr. George Jacob Regarding Pullolickal Family Trust

While discussing the setting up of the Pullolickal family trust, some have raised the concern that naming one person, viz., Areeparambil Pengal (Sosamma Thomas, Muriankel), may have the adverse effect of downplaying the contributions made by the other members of the family or grading the contribution put in by the family members. I would like to take this opportunity to discuss how naming of Pengal in the trust came into being and also want to assure you that this, in no way, downplays the contributions made by other members of the family.

In order to understand how the special mention to Areeparambil Pengal came into being, we need to look at a little bit of history to give us the right perspective. Let me emphasize, up front, that the idea was not to grade the performance of the members of the family or to show that one did more than anyone else. Hopefully, we can clear up this issue today.

First, how the idea of Pullolickal trust came up. When we lost Areeparambil Pengal, we the surviving family members, felt that something must be done to preserve her memory. No doubt, we have the first hand knowledge of the contribution she had made during the most difficult years in our family following the premature demise of Achen. She was the backbone to Ammachy and she struggled with her in running the home, cooking food for the laborers and in bringing up the younger siblings. Because of our financial constraints at that time, her marriage was delayed. She was married to Aliyan who had lost his first wife. Her married life ended with the untimely death of Aliyan. For all her hard work in bringing up the family, she was paid a meager sum of Rs.900/ at the time of marriage when the dowry rates were much higher. She did not get any part of the paternal property that she had a great part in developing; something we have the pleasure of possessing at present. The community in which she lived consisted of mostly laborers in that remote village.

We feel that Pengal got the short end of the stick in terms of what she put into our family and what we gave her. In our system, women, once married, do not have much say in the family. We wanted to do something to correct the situation. With this background, we thought of opening a charitable Trust with the support of our family members in her memory to extend financial aid to the backward community in that village with whom she was associated with. When some members of the family learned about the idea, they suggested that the scope of the Trust be widened. The trust should be named "Pullolickal P.K. Chacko and Mariamma Chacko memorial Trust.'' At this stage, a preliminary meeting of the Pullolickal family members was held with at least one member representing each unit. None from the Areeparambil unit attended.

Regarding the disbursement of the sum, it was decided that Board of Trustees is the only competent authority to make the final decision in the matter. This is to be done after reviewing all the applications. The beneficiary from the Areeparambil sector will also be selected by the Trust and he or she will be told that the sum is from the Pullolickal charitable trust. There is no requirement that 25% be given to Areeparambil sector. The trust documents will state that up to 25% may be given to activities that were dear to Pengal. From the mode of distribution, you will note that we are going to project Pullolickal family and not individuals who were the pioneers.

Does naming a particular person belittle others in the family, especially the original 7 male members of the family? I don't think so. The trust is a self-perpetuating one. It will be managed by the trustee. By the very nature of it, as the women's side keep distancing away from the trust, the de facto control of the trust will stay with the male side of the family. For example, I cannot see Areeparambil Thampy's or Georgekutty's great-grandkids to have much contact with Pullolickal family - and Raju's great grandkids may not even know Muriankel side of the family. There is a better chance that they will know the main Pullolickal branch when they come for occasional visits to Kerala. By means of the Pullolickal family Trust, the memory and contribution of the original 7 founding fathers will be preserved. That, however, is not true in case of women behind it like Areeparambil Pengal, who also made a significant contribution to the family. (For example, we all know the 12 sons of Jacob in the bible, but who knows anything about his daughters? Women tend to be forgotten as time marches on unless we make some special provision to preserve their memory.) So, the point is that we do not need to mention any of the 7 male members of the family specifically - they will be stalwarts all the time. If we do not make provision to keep the memory of the women side, there is a better chance of them being forgotten. So, that is why we want to mention Areeparambil Pengal by name in the trust. It does not belittle the work of others.

From this you will appreciate that by setting apart a portion of disbursement amount for the Areeparambil sector, we are just remembering and respecting a family member who also contributed in a substantial way to the growth of the family during a difficult phase about which only few of the younger generation have first hand knowledge. Leaving her out will be a gross injustice.

I must add that I received good response from USA. I am sure that the Trust will come into existence with Almighty's blessing.

Please feel free to share your thoughts with me.

Dr. George Jacob