Mahantesh, who had lost his vision due to typhoid at a very early age, has vowed to banish all the adversities the visually impaired students face. With a mission to guide, assist and encourage visually and physically challenged children to pursue higher studies he, along with two other visually impaired friends, started an organisation called Samarthanam Trust For The Disabled. In the local language, the word samarthanam means capable.
He says that his own journey was possible because "of very supportive and visionary parents, who never focused on his disability and chose instead to praise him for his achievements and capabilities ". It was this approach that made him start the present organisation - to give of what he had received.
The results are unique: Rajani, a visually impaired student, successfully completed her Chartered Accountancy course and joined the Taj Group of Hotels in its Administration department. She became the finalist of the "Kevin Care Ability Award 2003."
Pankaj, another visually impaired student, completed his Bachelor in Business Management this year and is now planning to pursue further studies in one of the top management institutes of the country.
For Rajini and Pankaj, these achievements were distant dreams till they enrolled with 'Samarthanam Trust For Disabled' where they received an abundance of motivation and encouragement tha gave them a new ray of hope in life. "Believe in Ability than in Disability is our motto" says Mahantesh.
The organisation provides free lodging, boarding and tutoring to the visually impaired, physically and economically challenged students. Samrthanam also provides free computer training to its students. Under the Central Government's IED program the Samarthanam staff has identified 350 disabled students in the slums and inducted them in the regular government schools for studies. Their staff helps in the teaching of these students. The students of Samarthanam have have represented India in the "World cup cricket Tournament for the Blind -1998 and 2002". Cricket training according to Mahantesh provides blind and visually impaired disabled children "with an opportunity to throw themselves around on the field, to strategise and calculate their moves, and to work as a team ".
With the aim of integrating disabled persons with the normal people, Samathanam extended its facility to the physically challenged and economically weaker section. "We encourage integration rather than isolation" says Paul Mudda, co-founder of the organisation. With the aim of integration, Samarthanam has tied up with I.C.Y.E. (International Cultural Youth Exchange) for a cultural exchange program.
Mahantesh gives full credit to its employees and the volunteers for their accomplishments in different fields. He says, "In the last seven years we have been able to make valuable volunteer contacts who helped us in different projects and daily activities. It is their kind help due to which we could sustain and grow in the mission of betterment of the lives for disabled persons." Samarthanam received the "Governor's Award for Excellence" in 2002.
Samarthanam Trust For The Disabled
#11, Villa Suchita, 1st Cross, 17th A Main,
J.P Nagar 2nd Phase, Bangalore - 560 078
Telephone: 91-80-26592999 / 26591488
Email ID: firstname.lastname@example.org
Web site: www.samarthanam.org