Anushka Tyagi on October 25, 2018 in Health & Sanitation
“Our minds are as different as our faces; we are all travelling to one destination- happiness; but few are going by the same route.”
“We revel in the thought of being unique, exclusive and distinct from others in everything we do. If it is a matter of pride for us to be different, then why do we discriminate with differently abled individuals? I do not believe they are disabled, rather more abled than we are but in their own way.” This was the response I was met with when I asked Mrs. Anjali Shah of “Advitya – a creative centre for the specially gifted” the one thing she believes in and that keeps her going.
Being an ardent animal lover, art aficionado and a gardening enthusiast, she believes in helping whoever she can, in whatever capacity. Having done her B.Ed in special education and having worked at Dr. AV Mehta special school and Dilkush special school, she found herself developing a bond with her students through her vocational sessions. But soon she decided to quit as she wanted to start a family of her own. But as it is said, “some of the most wonderful people are those who do not fit into boxes.” It was almost 10 years later, that her ex – student Swati, who couldn’t handle her departure and slipped into depression and developed disarray in behavioral patterns, made her stand at crossroads with her previous tryst helping the differently abled. On much persuasion by Swati’s mother, she agreed to spend time with Swati, everyday, for a couple of hours. After a year, which consisted several arrangements and methods such as vocational and color therapy, Swati returned to her old zealous and fervent self. This series of events not only changed Swati’s life but was a reflection of Anjali’s past as well. This was a call for Anjali to return to where her heart was. This led her to start Advitya.
The embarkment of Advitya was a turning point for those looking for an institute for people with special needs, and were unable to adjust in other special institutes, were home bound and were in dire need of a creative and constructive lease. It is safe to say that Christmas in the year 2000 came early for kids who were differently abled.
It was the Japanese who invented the idea of Kaizen, which means making one small change every day to reach a goal, one small correction every day, every hour or minute to reach a destination. But it was Anjali who truly understood its implication. The journey to create Mental Health Awareness with a focus on Intellectual and Developmental Disorders is a long, trying one. A lot of dialogue and debate surrounds the issue of hostility and indifference to such individuals because of lack of any large scale efforts concerning empathy and their inclusion. Over the years, Advitya has dealt with over 150 cases in the spectrum of Intellectual Challenges and helped not just the beneficiaries but also their families, whose lives get greatly affected. It also associates itself with other disadvantaged communities such as Self Help Groups and Senior Citizens and has synthesized these with our primary cause to create a comprehensive movement to reach out to those who need support.
The stigma associated with IDD is a deep rooted one. To tackle it, one needs to be sensitive and considerate enough to understand that one’s suffering can often be reduced by just accepting them the way they are. Imagine the plight of a child who is suffering from Down’s syndrome or IDD, who is treated differently than his very own “sane” or “normal” siblings. Having face the hostility of their very own family members, or being called names on the pretext of normalcy is not the best feeling in the world, is it? Advitya has always opened its arms and has whole heartedly welcomed such individuals, providing them a second innings at life!
And they don’t stop there! By 2023, they plan to start full-fledged sensitization programs and workshops in schools, colleges, offices and other communities. An even more long term goal is to build a residential home and asylum for people with special needs by 2028.
To establish a community which serves peace and justice to its inhabitants requires us to be accepting of who we truly are. It also means accepting others the way they are, whether differently abled or not. Because nobody has the ability to makes things perfect, but if given a chance, they can makes things better.
In order to be a part of their growth journey and to read more about their initiatives, visit right Advitya now!