Mental retardation is a disability and not a disease; such people need support throughout life and Adhar strives to do just that
Adhar is an institution by the parents, of the parents and for the parents of special children. A group of 20-30 parents from middle-class families came together under the leadership of the late Madhav Gangadhar Gore and started a residential institute at Badlapur (Thane district, Maharashtra) for the mentally retarded. This beginning was made in 1990 when Adhar was registered as Association of Parents of Mentally Retarded Children.
Mental retardation has no cure in medical science. It is a disability and not a disease. Mentally retarded persons need support throughout their life. It is very difficult for them to become completely independent physically, mentally or even financially. Hence, the need for a residential institute like Adhar that will always be there to provide support to mentally challenged children and adults.
Vishwas Gore, who now heads the NGO as its chairman, says that Adhar is the first institute of its kind in India that takes the responsibility of lifelong care and protection of mentally retarded children into their adulthood. Seven of the nine trustees on Adhar’s board are parents of special children. Adhar has 251 mentally challenged children, male and female, under its care. Interestingly, Adhar does not get any grant or aid from the government but runs on contributions from parents and donations.
Apart from Thane, Adhar has a facility at Nashik, called Adhar-II, which can provide care to 100 children but currently has 51 male children.
The concept of lifelong care for mentally children includes the effort to make them self-sufficient, to an extent, by providing vocational training. Children are taught to make articles such as chalk sticks, candles, paper bags, agarbatties, dusters, mats, decorated earthen lamps (diyas) for Diwali, wall hangings, etc, as per their physical and mental abilities. Inculcating work discipline is also part of the training. The children work from 9.30am to 4.30pm.
Adhar’s support system includes the care of a psychologist, psychiatrist, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, medical officers, social workers, special teachers, caretakers and other office staff who ensure treatment, recreation and rehabilitation.
A proud and relieved parent was quoted as saying, “...My son Akash is with Adhar for the past 14 years. After coming here, he has improved a lot. Whenever, I take him home, he just wants to come back to Adhar. When I come here, I feel I am coming to a resort. Now, I am no longer worried about who will look after Akash after I am gone.” We learn from the NGO that this parent passed away last year and his son Akash continues to reside at Adhar.
Another happy parent says that he had seen a dozen of such institutes; but this one had the happiest residents.
On Adhar’s future, Mr Gore says, “The financial model of Adhar in the early days was 75% contribution from parents and the remaining 25% from donations. Over a period, the financial conditions of many parents deteriorated substantially and they could not be burdened in future. Hence, increased support and involvement from society by way of doantions has become a necessity for long-term survival and sustainability of the institution.”
Moneylife readers are welcome to donate to Adhar. All donations received by Adhar are exempt under Section 80G of the Income-Tax Act. There are over 1.5 million mentally challenged persons in India and over 200,000 of these are in Maharashtra alone. Clearly, there is utmost need to support organisations like Adhar and help them reach out to more children.
102, Om Shraddha Saburi CHS,
Opp. Bhagavati School Ground,
Vishnu Nagar, Naupada,
Thane (W) 400602, Maharashtra
Tele: (022) 25341708 / 25426753