School running short of resources

School for special individuals running short of resources

A 60-year-old Bengaluru-based NGO is struggling to make ends meet

The NGO is now employing mothers of patients to make embroidered masks. They are taking custom and bulk orders.

With donations drying up during the pandemic, an NGO that caters to 200 intellectually disabled indivduals is in dire straits.

The Association for the Mentally Challenged, which runs a school, vocational training centre and daycare, was founded in 1960 by Dr DLN Murthy Rao. Started with three children, it has grown over the years, and served hundreds with special needs. The centre is located in Hombegowda Nagar, near Nimhans.

“We teach children below 18. Once they complete schooling, they are enrolled into our pre-vocational training courses,” explains Vanishree Manohar, secretary.

Not all achieve the skill level required for gainful employment, but those who do are given the opportunity to earn through ouer sheltered workshops, she says.

The vocational centre makes candles, pottery, bags and more. 

The Association for the Mentally Challenged receives patients through word of mouth, and also through references from Nimhans and the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Medical Health.

The pandemic has hit the patients hard. Many parents are daily wage workers who lost their jobs and could not provide for the needs of their children.

“Over 90 per cent come from underprivileged backgrounds as we provide all our services for free,” Vanishree says.

This includes everything from school uniforms to lunch evaluated and certified by a nutritionist. Since March, trainers and special educators have been in touch with the children and their parents, but physical classes have remained suspended.

A day after the first lockdown was announced in March, the committee running the school pooled in its own resources and bought ration kits. “Within 10 days, we distributed kits to over 100 families,” she says.

The children don’t have access to electronic devices that can help them continue their education, says Vanishree. The association has approached an online education platform to help provide children with special educational videos pre-uploaded on tablets.

This is yet to materialise, and donations of old smartphones and tablets would help children continue their education, she told Metrolife.

“We’re also hoping for donations in cash and kind. Funding has taken a hit as most CSR initiatives have been redirected to Covid relief,” she says. 

Their vocational centre was a source of income but production has been halted, and revenue from the sale of products has stopped.

“We have adapted to the new normal and are employing the mothers of our students to make masks. They can be custom embroidered and ordered for events like weddings,” she says. 

For more information, visit www.amcin.org or contact 98453 25100.