Education  India Project #24545

Support Abandoned Mentally Challenged Children

by Sri Arunodayam Charitable Trust
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Support Abandoned Mentally Challenged Children
Support Abandoned Mentally Challenged Children
Support Abandoned Mentally Challenged Children
Displaying the bag he made entirely on his own!
Displaying the bag he made entirely on his own!

Satish appears to remember his father (an auto rickshaw driver) who abandoned him at the Mylapore Railway Station, Chennai on the 2nd of June 2005 when he was just 12 years old. He remembers obediently waiting at the spot his father instructed him to stay at. Sadly, the man never returned to claim Satish, and Don Bosco Anbu Illam rescued him and sent him to us. Understandably, the child was hurt and withdrawn and it took us quite a while to coax him out of his depression and get him interested in the world around him.

Satish lives with mild intellectual disability and has regular bouts of fits. Silent by nature, he's a hands-on type of person who prefers to work on the most challenging tasks before him. He appears to have finally found himself. Satish was a top student in our Special Education program and became a top student at Prayatna – our vocational training center, where he blossomed into the calm and capable young man that he is today.

All of 24, and a perfectionist, Satish is our top performer at Prayatna too where he's pretty much mastered all the vocational activities! From making candles to painting lamps to binding books to neatly wrapping products… no one beats Satish yet! On the personal front, he's extremely finicky about cleanliness and loves to keep himself, his work station and his favourite haunts scrupulously clean. Satish is also a recognized sportsman in running and long jump. He's a State player recognized by the District Differently Abled Welfare Office (DDAWO), Chennai.

We are incredibly proud of this young man who chooses not to let his past overshadow his life. It’s not that he’s forgotten the sad incident but that he bears his sorrow with a quiet dignity and calm acceptance while continuing to put his best foot forward each day. This is a beautiful life from which we have much to learn!

Children are a priceless gift. They aren’t given to us because we are special or entitled, but because they can make our lives special as we choose to receive and love them. If you are interested in making a difference in the life of a young lad like Satish, please call our office and schedule a visit. There are 34 other young men like him whose lives can be transformed with a little help!

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Sai Lakshmi - pretty in pink!
Sai Lakshmi - pretty in pink!

Sai Lakshmi turned 5 on December 7, 2017. Of course this isn’t her real birth-day. She was abandoned at a temple in Villupuram, South India, so we have no official records of her actual birth-date. But every abandoned child has the right to celebrate his or her birthday like other children, so we fixed Sai’s date of arrival into our home as her birthday. And that’s how she got to celebrate it last month amidst much rejoicing and fanfare!

When Sai was discovered, the District Collector ordered that she be sent to the Cradle Baby center at Villupuram. After a while the Child Welfare Committee (Vellore, South India) sent her to us as she is intellectually challenged.

Sai lives with Cerebral Palsy (CP) – a condition marked by impaired muscle coordination (spastic paralysis) and other disabilities, typically caused by damage to the brain which could have been caused by brain injury or abnormal brain development before, during or immediately after birth. CP affected Sai’s muscle control, coordination and tone, reflex, posture and balance. It had seriously impacted her fine and gross motor skills to the extent that she felt confined to bed in the early stages of her development. Sai could not speak, interact or do anything on her own. She virtually lived in a world of her own where none could penetrate. To compound her situation, Sai has genu recurvatum (a deformity in the knee joint, so that the knee bends backwards), and she suffers bouts of fits.

Quite a dismal prognosis for any child but Sai is a winner! She is slowly and steadily transforming herself as she works with her teachers, caregivers and physiotherapist to become as normal as she possibly can be. She’s shown remarkable improvement in the past 6 months and has become quite the talker! She is able to eat on her own, dress up, sway to music, solve complex jigsaw puzzles and socialize so well that it’s hard to recognize this child lives with CP. We believe she’s well on her way to becoming independent by her 6th birthday!

Children are a priceless gift. They aren’t given to us because we are special or entitled, but because they can make our lives special as we choose to receive and love them. If you are interested in making a difference in the life of a child like Sai, please call our office and schedule a visit. There are 114 children like her whose lives can be transformed with a little help!

 

Kissing the Teddy she was gifted on her birthday
Kissing the Teddy she was gifted on her birthday
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Shantha enchants the crowd!
Shantha enchants the crowd!

Shantha is an 11 year old little girl with mild intellectual disability. She also lives with hydrocephalus – a condition in which there is an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in her brain causing increased pressure inside her skull. Unable to care for her on account of poverty, her parents had surrendered her to the Government Cradle Baby Center in Dharmapuri District, Tamil Nadu State, when she was a little child. She came to our home when she was 4 years old.

Sustained special education and physiotherapy brought Shantha up to speed over the years, but more especially in the past year where her progress has been simply phenomenal! The role of the speech therapist was very critical in helping her express herself coherently. Around 6 months ago, Shantha passed a psychological evaluation that found her fit for mainstream education and she was enrolled in the 3rd grade at a Government school under the ‘inclusive learning’ program. Apparently, Shantha has a lot of hidden potential which needed some tapping into! In the past year she took up drawing, making small pieces of jewelry and painting colorful clay lamps.

As if this wasn't achievement enough, Shantha began to excel at classical Indian Bharatanatyam dance (which can be quite challenging for ‘normal’ children too!). We had introduced dance classes at the home less than a year ago and at first it didn’t appear that she would stick with it because of hyperactivity and body imbalance issues. But Shantha took us by surprise! Not only has she overcome her challenges but she is able to remember long and complex dance sequences and lyrics, and is well on her way to becoming a wonderful classical dancer who has made 6 public appearances already!

This is very exciting for us! A child written off by society but with a fighting chance to make it big one day! Thanks to her special educators, speech and physiotherapists, she is reaching her fullest potential today!

  • Watch her dance at: https://www.facebook.com/deepakraj.sethuraman/videos/vb.100001987497694/124421941232 0963/?type=3&theater
  • Shantha also performed at our Special Mom Award ceremony on May 14, 2017. You’ll find pictures of her and the rest of the troupe under the “Picture Gallery” (Welcome Dance by our Children) section at: https://sriarunodayam.org/special-mom-post-page/ 
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Lighting the Diwali lamps
Lighting the Diwali lamps

“Learn to light a candle in the darkest moments of someone’s life. Be the light that helps others see; it’s what gives life its deepest significance.” - Roy T. Bennett

Diwali is always a fun time for kids, especially ours! It’s a festival they wait for all year round. The new clothes, the crackers, the fun and games, chatting with visitors, sumptuous food and so much more! Our children had a blast! The deeper significance of this festival of course being the victory of good over evil, and light over darkness.

The day started early at 5.30 am with the customary ritual of the children getting an oil massage and a warm bath. They had a healthy breakfast, thanks to the generosity of a kind donor who sponsors breakfast on Diwali day for more than 10 years! Around 10 am they excitedly changed into their new clothes – thanks to the kind generosity of another donor who sponsored clothes for both the children and the staff. The children proudly showed off their new garments and started a morning cracker session followed by a sumptuous lunch of chicken biriyani and traditional sweets, lovingly prepared by another wonderful donor and his family.

In the afternoon, they watched a movie we screened for them and then we had photo sessions and games. So, that kept us all busy until tea time. The highlight of the day soon followed with a lovely cracker show from 5 to 7 pm.  (The crackers were also donated by kind benefactors). Tired after a hectic day of fun and frolic, the children retired to bed after a lovely dinner of rawa kichadi, sambar, chutney, and sweets, sponsored by kind donors.

We had a lovely day because of the generosity of  these wonderful people who make it a point to commit themselves to the welfare of these children year-on-year. They helped make Diwali a wonderful experience for the children!

And that’s how Diwali was celebrated here. The children are exposed to all the festivals, which helps them enjoy multiculturalism with the deepest respect.

Dressed for the occasion
Dressed for the occasion
Dressed for the occasion
Dressed for the occasion
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Sudharshan with his physiotherapist
Sudharshan with his physiotherapist

At Sri Arunodayam, each child has a story to tell, and this is Sudharshan’s.

Abandoned by his parents in 2014, Sudarshan was found on the streets of Trichy, a metropolitan city in the state of Tamil Nadu in South India. He was only 9 months old at the time.

Sudharshan’s uniqueness

Sudharshan was rescued by ChildLine volunteers who contacted several organizations, but none would accept him.  He finally came to Sri Arunodayam in great need of medical care. A psychological evaluation revealed that he lived with intellectual disability.  But Sudarshan also has a unique problem. He is a hermaphrodite – more commonly known as an intersex person, because he has both male and female genitalia. This condition occurs approximately once in every 4,500 births where a baby seems to have a mixture of both female and male parts.

The causes of ambiguous genitalia include genetic variations, and hormonal imbalances and malformations of the fetal tissues that are supposed to evolve into genitals.

Taking up the challenge

To be honest, we were perplexed because we had never faced a challenge of this kind. But after consulting some of the best medical minds in the city, we learnt to deal with the situation and Sudarshan has happily settled in with his caregivers.

Sudharshan was completely immobile at the time of admission. He was bedridden for a good while but we slowly coaxed him into an early intervention program which involved regular physiotherapy, special education and sensory integration exercises. Today, Sudarshan can walk with assistance and loves doing his exercises. We are particularly thrilled because he is beginning to communicate – although, in monosyllables. He mingles with the other children and his progress is very promising.

Sudarshan is one of 110 children at Sri Arunodayam where 16% are mildly challenged, 23% are moderately challenged, 38% are severely challenged, 19% are profoundly challenged, 2% are spastic, and 2% are visually challenged.

Sri Arunodayam is a secular organization with zero tolerance for discrimination against children, whether on the basis of religion, caste, status, or gender orientation. 

Founder - Iyyappan carrying Sudharshan
Founder - Iyyappan carrying Sudharshan
Sudharshan attending class
Sudharshan attending class
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Organization Information

Sri Arunodayam Charitable Trust

Location: Chennai, Tamil Nadu - India
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @sri_arunodayam
Sri Arunodayam Charitable Trust
Iyyappan Subramanian
Project Leader:
Iyyappan Subramanian
Founder Managing Trustee
Chennai, Tamil Nadu India

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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