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NGO Sreesh Mandiram was born out of a couple's experience coping with disability

As parents to two children with disabilities, D Varija and Madhu Babu were well aware of what other families with disabled kids go through. This led them to start NGO Sreesh Mandiram in Tirupati to empower people with disabilities and create awareness.

D Varija and Madhu Babu were comfortably settled in the United Arab Emirates with their two children when life took an unexpected turn. Both their kids, were diagnosed with a disability. Sreesh, their son, was diagnosed with Mucopolysaccharide (MPS), a rare genetic disorder that does not allow a lifespan of more than 10 years while their daughter had an intellectual disability.

Varija and Babu decided to move back to India so they could provide better treatment and facilities to their children. Here, they founded the Parent's Association for Children with Special Needs (PAC) in 2010. Sreesh died at the age of 10 and the couple started the NGO Sreesh Mandiram in Tirupati, to reach out to children and adults with disabilities.

From awareness programmes to job opportunities, Varija and Babu are committed to empowering the disabled community. One of the biggest problems faced by parents is finding a centre where their children can spend time once they turn 18.

Many parents are worried and doubtful about what they would do with their child who has a disability once they become an adult. At Sreesh Mandiram, we aim to create a home to keep children so that parents' routines are not affected. We want to create flexibility and sustainability together at the same time. We are doing our best in this small town of Tirupati with limited resources and funds. - Madhu Babu, Co-founder, Sreesh Mandiram.

Currently, there are more than 25 residents at Sreesh Mandiram along with a parent support group of over 80. One of the core members here is their daughter, who multiple disabilities.

The early days were a struggle as the couple ran from pillar to post to find a centre that could help their children. "When I came back to India, I faced many financial constraints along with funding for treatment of my children", says Babu. "Today, we have some kind-hearted souls and my friends who support Sreesh Mandiram. We do not have any government funding", he adds.

Babu says the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) that runs Tirupati temple, the world's richest temple, must step forward to help children and adults with disabilities.

"All the NGO's are helped by TTD and they reach out to people with all kinds of disabilities except those with intellectual disabilities. How is that fair? A pilgrim centre like Tirupati has crores of money pouring in every day. So, there is no reason for authorities to stop helping disabled people", says Babu.

Babu and Varija are adamant on offering the best for the residents of Sreesh Mandiram. Varija has completed a course in special education to reach out to as many children and adults with disabilities as possible.

"It gives me immense satisfaction when I see children doing things independently. I try and put all my efforts to help them. I know the needs of each special child because I am a mother to a girl with an intellectual disability and also had a son with a disability", says Varija.

CONTACT Sreesh Mandiram at +91 8919366450.

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