Satya Special School empowers disabled children and supports single mothers
In 2003, Chitra Shah witnessed a young girl with Down syndrome being tied up by her single mother for eight hours a day. Since they could not afford to send her to a school, the mother had to take up extreme steps. Things were worse because she was sexually assaulted for over two times! That is when Chitra decided to do her bit for disabled children who were taken care of by single mothers. Chitra, with the help of a few others, started the Satya Special School in Pondicherry. Now, they have over 900 children in their nine branches across Pondicherry!
Satya School aims to empower children with various kinds of disabilities from rural areas. They have been holding various programmes, awareness sessions and camps for the same. Their mobile therapy unit reaches out to single mothers in rural areas who need awareness about their child’s disabilities. Even pregnant women and lactating mothers are part of this venture. Satya has already reached out to 120 children from across 44 villages in and around Pondicherry as part of the project.
Most of the disabled children are not accepted by their family or even their own parents. At Satya, we try to look out for ways to create awareness. Any child who needs help can walk in to our institution, and we will provide free services to them. We train mothers on how to handle their disabled children because mothers are the core therapists for a disabled child. Even other family members including father, siblings and grandparents are also given awareness sessions- Chitra Shah, Founder, Satya Special School.
Satya points out that they have minimal support from the central government and zero support from the state. Hence, lack of funds is one of their biggest challenges.
“For some reason, the central government thinks that special schools in South India do not require many funds when compared to the north. For them, poverty is not obvious in Pondicherry. At our school, we admit children from across all the states of India”, says Chitra.
So it is not just disabled children who are part of Satya. Children of prisoners, sex workers and also slow learners are part of the special school which believes in inclusion. Satya School collaborates with hospitals to identify children with disabilities during birth.
This special school is providing opportunities to disabled children and those from underprivileged families. But clearly, their core aim is to lend a helping hand to single mothers who are struggling with their children who have disabilities.
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