They say looks can be misleading. That’s so very true in the case of Reshmy Nikith, 50. She is a simple-looking middle class woman but has the determination of pure steel.
She is the mother of two sons. The second one turned out to be a child with special needs and that’s when Reshmy got sensitised to the world of such kids.
Drishti Foundation, formed by her along with a few others, is rendering yeoman’s service to the cause of children with special needs. She spoke to S Balakrishnan in an interview. Excerpts:
How exactly did you start working for children with special needs?
After the birth of my first son, the second son Neel was born. When he was two-and-a-half years old, he had meningitis. After a lot of treatment, the doctor told us that Neel will be a child with special needs. I refused to go into depression and faced the reality, taking it up as a challenge. I had already done a diploma course in early intervention childhood care. That helped me in a big way in dealing with the needs of Neel. I tried to get admission for him in Tree House playschool but they refused admission. Then, I got admission for him in another school, but I realised that the teachers are not trained to handle children with special needs. It dawned on me that Chembur, where I live, did not have a school for such kids. That’s when I decided to start my own school.
Where did you open your school and how has been the journey, so far?
With the help of a friend, Radhika Dharmarajan, I rented a garage near Diamond Garden in Chembur. There, I started my school 16 years ago with just two students. It was a totally self-funded institution supported by volunteers. A dear friend, Gowri, who has an autistic child herself, joined hands with me. Today, we have 56 special children, including kids from poor backgrounds. I realised that children with special needs from a poor background also deserve help.
Are you doing this work with an institutional background?
To bring out activities, which includes various therapies, we founded the Drishti Foundation in 2012. We are much better organised now than before. Two biggest problems have been funds and a lack of sufficient funds. Right now, we have money to run the school for only one year. We had to change our premises seven times. We pay rent of Rs3 lakh per month for the house we have rented out. We are constantly looking for corporate social responsibility funds from corporates. God helps us in His own way. There is this gentleman who donates Rs50,000 every month anonymously. We have never met him. We don’t know who he is. Yet his contribution comes in unfailingly every month. Such gestures reinforce our faith in God and humanity.
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