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Amar Seva Sangam: Valley of Care and Compassion

By auther pic. Shilpa Tiwari

September 30, 2020

Amar Seva Sangam: Valley of Care and Compassion

Mentors show a personal touch at the study centres

Who would have thought that there would appear a visionary after sustaining serious injuries that resulted in multiple spine fractures, leaving him paralysed for life? This visionary, Padma Shree Mr. Ramakrishnan, along with another stalwart, Sh. Shankara Raman, who himself suffers muscular dystrophy, created a “Valley for Disabled” in the town of Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, way back in 1981. Hereafter, started a unique journey of Amar Seva Sangam (ASSA) that holds a golden spectacle to the world of differently abled citizens. Pride is a small word for all those associated with the organisation for various reasons. The philanthropic practices of this wonderful organisation are a causefor awe, not just inspiration.

The main aim of ASSA is to empower those who are differently abled, fill them with supreme confidence and restore their place in the society by offering them education, vocational trainings and even placements. In order to establish the “Valley for the Disabled,”– the vision of the benevolent founders of ASSA - to work in the rural areas for the benefit of physically and mentally challenged persons. It aims to create a life that has a pro-active society where equality prevails irrespective of physical, mental or other challenged with the rest of the society. The system of Village Rehabilitation and Industry Rehabilitation devised by ASSA takes complete care of such individuals.

Ambeth Raja is a shining example of Industry Rehabilitation - who suffered congenital low vision. Sangamam School of Amar Seva Sangam admitted him at age 13, in 2003, where he was trained in socialization, communication and on skill development. In the pre-vocational classes, Raja was imparted skills for industrial training. During individual assessment of each special child, it was found that the child had special skills in singing. Ambeth Raja underwent industrial training in paper cup and candle making in Tirunelveli Industrial Institute with the help of his father. Later, he was trained for data entry. As he has vision problem, he used special lenses and learnt computer training in Painting, Word and Excel. Recently, he is being trained as Administrative Assistant in Amar Seva Sangam adding yet another feather in his cap of successes.

The organisation is proud to contribute in every aspect of a disabled child's growth. Their Siva Saraswathi Vidyalaya Inclusive Higher Sec School and Sangamam Special School of Children with High Support Needs takes care of the schooling of children. Once the child moves into higher levels of education, the vocational training support is catered by their Vocational Training Centre for Youth with Disabilities.

R. Kalyani, a young teenager suffers moderate Mental Retardation, unable to take care of her own needs. She enrolled in the year 2011 and trained in functional academic class. She was shifted to Pre-Vocational class after 3 years. Now she is very independent and attentive in class. Her communication is also good with her peer group. She is given training to make necklaces with crystal beads. She is good at doing domestic activities in her residence and also helpful in doing gardening and cover making at our School. She showed good understanding of computers and is now undergoing training for her skill development at Sangamam Vocational Training Centre.

There is no dearth of initiatives at Amar Seva Sangam. The rapid increase of technology usage in current times has inspired the organisation to come up with door-step delivery of services. ASSA has provided home-based Early Intervention for children with developmental delays over the past five years. The technology usage has translated into assistance of a real-time mobile technology platform called the mVBR-EI – mobile Village Based Rehabilitation Early Intervention. This has led to significant improvements in motor, cognitive, speech, functional and social development outcomes for children, as well as increased school enrolment, increased family empowerment, improved parent-child interaction and reduced strain on caregivers.

ASSA Teams are taking care of rural districts where the community rehab workers include physiotherapists, special educators, occupational and speech therapists, teach parents and care-givers how to take care of their little ones who suffer various maladies. S.Anbukarasi, was unable to speak or express herself freely like other children of her age even though she turned over three. Her worried parents brought her to Early InterventionCentre (EIC) in May 2015. Her diagnosis proved that she needed speech therapy and special education at the centre that would cure her of her inabilities to speak loudly. She could not even answer questions properly nor did she mingle with other children. Moreover, she was unable to scribble too. After having worked on her for three months, her mother Rajalakshmi was happy to report that Anbukrasi was ready for general school. Many children have benefitted from committed efforts of EIC, especially in the rural districts of Tamil Nadu.

 

Anbukrasi can express herself with speech therapy sessions 

​Early Intervention has a significant impact for children who have delayed development in physical, cognitive, emotional, sensory, behavioural, social and communication domains of development. With quality early intervention services children can reach their potential, live a meaningful life and integrate into their communities. After nearly five years of special education including Physio and speech therapies, Master P. Vignesh showed real improvement. He was afflicted with Cerebral palsy with MR. He was unable to fulfil his basic needs and had no toilet control. A child of four yet fully dependent on others for everything, who could not even sit properly was a matter of grave concern for his parents. Currently, Activities of Daily Living (ADL) skills meted out to him by the trainers have greatly improved his motor skills as well as ability to learn basic concepts has made him a brighter kid now. His parents are grateful to the ASSA Team efforts, who made him blossom almost into a new person, ready to socialise with other children.

 

Master Vignesh was suffering from cerebral palsy but now a happy child.

Having made positive changes in the life of persons with disability and their families in the geographical area covering eight blocks of Tenkasi District in Tamil Nadu, ASSA has 30 years of experience in working with persons with disability. Promoting education, including special education and employment enhancing vocation skills especially among children, women, elderly and the differently abled and livelihood enhancement project apart from promoting gender equality is the unstoppable service and commitment of this noble and unique organisation. It is one of a kind organization for disabled people founded and run by disabled persons.

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Author

Shilpa Tiwari is a New Delhi based Content Specialist with three decades of experience. She has worked extensively on a variety of researches and curricula across K12, Higher Education, Corporate and Social Development sectors. A Master’s degree in English Literature and a degree in French from Delhi University, alongwith International Business Programme from IIFT, most certainly provides Shilpa an added expertise to work as a Consultant on various research and consulting projects with Corporates, Educational Institutions, Publications, CSR Foundations and NGOs.

 

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