Santhi Rajendran

Commitment to care

Santhi a special mother of special children, who decided to give her a chance to live a normal life. Resisted by the society, with the self-help groups, she motivated many parents to do voluntary work for special children. This changed the parents’ view towards 'differently abled' children, which eventually helped them lead a better life.

Santhi Rajendran is a Joint Secretary, AMC in Bangalore. Women are always treated as homemakers in almost 60% Indian households. But Santhi is one among the 40%, who has been spending all her life for the very special people on earth which the society labelled as ‘differently abled.’ Santhi a mother of a special child, Valli.

Her story is one of loss, love, and commitment to care.
Loss: Santhi, a graduate, born from a well-being family grew up with all the comforts in life. Happily married to Rajendran and settled in Bangalore. Life was so good for Santhi with such a caring husband where all her happiness was fulfilled when she became a mother. There was immense happiness in giving birth to a girl child. She named her Valli Rajendran. However, all the happiness was only for few minutes. There was a sense of immense loss- loss of what she thought would be. Santhi experienced intense loss on hearing that her daughter Valli was a differently abled child with Down Syndrome.

It took several months for her to understand what the state of her child actually was. Santhi underwent a couple of counselling sessions and learnt more about the differently abled. She then completely concentrated on Valli for her improvement and betterment with the support of her husband and her second daughter.

LOVE: Santhi turned her loss into intense love. She nurtured her kid with all possible stimulation and support to maximize growth and development. She put her daughter into various special schools. She trained her in dance, yoga, handicrafts etc. Of the many centres, The Association For the Mentally Challenged (AMC) institution gave Santhi and Valli a better platform.

Valli was in AMC until her 16 years of age, until Santhi decided to give a change in lifestyle to Valli and put her in a nursery school as an assistant teacher. Valli was very happy working in a school with kindergarten kids, for 5 years. But a parent of that school did not encourage a differently abled girl working with normal children and she had to leave the school. This disappointed both Santhi and Valli, which became an inspiration for Santhi to take a special interest in showing up these special kids equal to the society. Santhi encouraged Valli in starting her own business in handicrafts & data entry. Currently, Valli prepares garlands using beads and artificial flowers. She also helped one of Santhi’s friends in their business with data entry. She started in full fledge and earns herself, which made Valli even happier.

Commitment to Care:
Santhi initially joined the parent's self-help group with the interest of other parents where parents are being helped with various activities. This self-help group motivated many parents to do voluntary work for the special children. Santhi with the help of self-help group, Dr Kishore, Dr Srinivasa Murthy, family, relatives and friends started to conduct various activities such as sports, cultural events, etc. for the children at school which showed up infinite happiness in the face of children. All these initiatives like group discussions resulted in greater confidence and accepting children with the disability by parents and families.

One aspect of caring for a child with a disability is the need for medical support. Though the government has schemes like NIRMAYA, most of the parents from lower social class could not access it. Santhi along with another parent Prema Varadarajan decided to be the catalysts for parents to access the services. This meant preparing of identity card, railway concession, and medical insurance like Niramaya, Swalamban, and application for pensions etc., many of the illiterate parents needed help getting reimbursement from the insurance companies. Another activity was to liaison with NIMHANS, Bangalore to facilitate good mental health care. Santhi has also been doing her services to pregnant women among friends and relatives by giving good support in medical check-ups, meditations, healing etc. so that they give birth to healthy children. Santhi has completely played a major role in life with these differently abled persons and their families.

DREAM: Inspired by this, she has a plan of starting up a home in a rural area for the ‘Aged People and Differently Abled children’. Her dream is to ensure that both aged people and differently abled children will help each other towards a better life.

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