The differently abled

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

: : Varsha Adusumilli : :

They say people do great work when driven by passion.

I witnessed it all over again at a school for the mentally disabled in South Mumbai where I interacted with an amazing bunch of dedicated individuals led by Sister Gaitonde.

spj1Sister Gaitonde believes that every person deserves a life of dignity, something which can be achieved only through self-empowerment, in sync with the school’s ideology. Well, S.P.J. Sadhana is the only school that offers polytechnic courses for the mentally disabled kids.

Every student who took up the programme landed up a job. That speaks for the school’s excellence. S.P.J. Sadhana has been working for disabled kids since the past 37 years and over time developed a unique curriculum that perfectly caters to the needs of the community they work for.

Every year S.P.J Sadhana organizes its annual show on a massive scale where they always showcase talent instead of disability. The response for all their events so far has been tremendous.

S.P.J. Sadhana’s work has been supported by corporates like the TATA Group , HSBC, HDFC and AXIS Bank among others.

However, despite the good work, the support has been meagre so far and the school still struggles to pay salaries, because of which they are not able to recruit new staff. None of the hardships however could force Sister Gaitonde to compromise on the founding principles and ideals of the school. Last year only 14 out of 114 in the school could afford to pay the fee, but the school never rejected any kid who needed help.

“We do not accept any support or grant from the Government as that would mean a severe compromise on the flexibility with which we operate now,” says Sister Gaitonde. The school can’t afford a separate team for fundraising while teachers end up doing all the work.

“Parents and relatives of these disabled kids value them only when they bring their first salary home,” says Sister Gaitonde.

spj2 Disability is not very well addressed in our society and that is clear to me by now. It is high time for us to wake up to the problem and do something about it. And honestly speaking we don’t have to do much when organizations like S.P.J. Sadhana have the entire support system in place except for a few resources. We as donors, volunteers, corporates, trusts and media can bridge that gap for them.

Time to think.

For further details visit S P J Sadhna website.


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