Madhu Tugnait

A Desire To Make A Difference

It’s one thing to pray day and night for a dream to materialize, but a totally different ball game to manage the ground realities of setting up an establishment that can enrich the lives of others. But Madhu managed every struggle and made her dream come true.

For dreams to come true, one has to dream even when awake. Madhu Tugnait did it for 20 long years. She named her project ICHA (Desire) even before it came into existence. The face of ICHA kept on changing and growing in her mind during those years, from an old-aged home, to a destitute women’s home, and finally a home for abandoned children with physical and mental disabilities. Today her dream is a reality.

Madhu used to lead an absolutely commercial life as a fashion designer, and ran a successful boutique in Vizag. She started weaning off commercial assignments by first devoting a few days a week by volunteering with BCT (Bhagvatula Charitable Trust). Soon, she took a clean break from her boutique and spent all her time as the production head of the BCT textile division. She worked extensively with destitute women, teaching them weaving, embroidery and tailoring, a craft she was well versed with.

The dream of being able to do something for society kept growing stronger within her as the years passed. She finally took the first steps towards realizing that vision when ICHA was registered as a trust in 2010. Her mission was to provide a lifelong home/shelter for abandoned children. Dreams don't come easy and dreams don't come cheap. It’s one thing to pray day and night for a dream to materialize, but a totally different ball game to manage the ground realities of setting up such an establishment. Given the exorbitant price of land, Madhu finally sold all her gold ornaments and bought a lovely plot of land on the banks of the Kondakarlava lake, 50 kms from Vizag city. She wanted the children to have a pollution free, open and healthy atmosphere. Before she could rejoice over owning a plot of land, the cost of building even the basic infrastructure suitable for the children with various challenges loomed large in front of her. Madhu had to take the extreme step of selling a flat she had in Pune, to pool money for the construction.

Meanwhile, in April 2012, ICHA started operations from Madhu’s own home, with three children. There were many days and nights when Madhu would be up with her ‘children.’ The domestic help she had, left without notice, leaving Madhu with no choice but to cook, clean and look after all three children with varying degrees of mental and physical challenges, on her own. The grit and determination of a woman like Madhu can only be imagined, since she not only survived that initial period of struggle but also ensured that the kids she adopted, adapted to their new surroundings and accepted her as their mother/caretaker.

Today, the foundation provides food, clothing, and therapy to 15 children with varying disabilities. ICHA is planning to expand its capabilities by adopting another five more children in the near future. The shelter is managed mainly by Madhu Tugnait with a team of caretakers, a physiotherapist, kitchen staff, and teachers.

The ICHA employment philosophy is based on providing employment to adults from the lower income groups from Vizag and its surrounding districts. With the exception of accounting, administration and communications, they have focused on building a team based on each individual’s capability and passion to serve the cause of abandoned children.

Supporting Madhu and her dream, are a group of family and friends with sound professional expertise, who lend their support in various capacities to ensure ICHA runs as smoothly as possible.

Presently all the children she looks after have significant physical or mental disabilities. She aims to provide for other abandoned children as well.

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