Soulfree reaches out to severely disabled women in India, victims of the worst abuse
Women with disabilities face multiple challenges in India. Disability is just a small part of this. What is worse is the neglect, apathy and abuse they are subjected to.
Soulfree in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, is India's first NGO to reach out to women with severe disabilities. "Identifying these women is very, very hard", says founder Preethi Sreenivasan, who is quadriplegic. "They are kept hidden, their parents prefer not to acknowledge them. I have even been told by a parent that she would prefer that her disabled daughter dies".
It is this lack of family support that is their biggest disability and Soulfree is trying to change that through awareness campaigns so they can lead a life of dignity and purpose.
It also offers a monthly stipend for 20 severely disabled people in villages to support them with various needs like education, business ventures or medical needs. Soulfree also provides retrofitted scooters, wheelchairs and other mobility aids.Twice a year, it sends out 'gift boxes' of medicines and other important medical supplies to the disabled, especially in rural areas.
Soulfree aims to set up an integrated rehabilitation and care centre for disabled women who do not have family members to support them.