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Samanvai spreads smiles to lives of disabled people in Hyderabad

January 15, 2019

Samanvai, an NGO in Hyderabad, is all about the strength of woman power. Started in 2011 by four women, the Samanvai Center for Children with Special Needs is one of the most sought after NGOs for disabled people in Hyderabad.

From starting off as an NGO reaching out to blind students to support them in academics and daily living, today Samanvai touches the lives of people with multiple disabilities.

The founders, Swarnalatha, Lathamani, Sumitra and Sandhya Reddy have an interesting story of their beginnings. It all started when Swarnalatha, who has a disabled son, met Sneha during a therapy session. The duo started to reach out to blind students during exams. Soon, the number of students started increasing. So they decided to start an NGO so more people can be empowered. Like most NGOs, Samanvai had a dearth of funds and the founders had to pitch in from their own pockets.

We are glad that we started this NGO because we could help hundreds of people with disabilities. Our main aim is to make people from the disabled community independent. Until tenth standard, most people with disabilities have government support for education. But what about their education and future after that? We want to help them in being self-reliant- Sandhya Reddy, Co-founder, Samanvai

Samanvai reaches out to youth from ages one to 18 years. There are over 100 people with various kinds of disabilities who are benefitting from Samanvai's services. They have an in-house speech therapist and special educators who make sure that the people at Samanvai get nothing lesser than the best. Many blind students come here after regular school to learn Braille and maths.

Lack of funds is their biggest roadblock to progress. Reddy says that most of the companies who come forward to sponsor students are unwilling to sponsor for disabilities like autism and Down syndrome.

"Developmental disorders like autism or Down syndrome are a lifelong condition. So companies cannot close their records saying that a beneficiary is treated and cured. So they are hesitant to come forward and sponsor for such disabilities for children who come from economically backward families. We haven't tried getting any government support yet because Telengana already has thousands of NGOs for disabled people. It is quite complicated to look out for government support at this point of time", says Reddy.

Since there is a lack of awareness about disabilities, the team at Samanvai has a tough time convincing parents to bring their children to the NGO. Dearth of special educators also make things tough for them. But in spite of this, parents and students are hapoy with the level of commitment and dedication.

R Madhavi's son Harikrishna is a part of Samanvai for the past six years. Harikrishna completed his Class 10 in a regular school. Since he was denied admission elsewhere, Madhavi decided to bring him to Samanvai.

"That was one of the best decisions I took. After being a part of Samanvai, my son has improved a lot. Until then, I was searching in the dark on how to help my son have a bright future. Samanvai has professional and skilled teachers who helped him read and write well. I never knew he had an interest in baking. Now, he bakes well", says Madhavi.

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