Making gift boxes and paper furniture cannot be called a feat but when differently-abled children do the same, it calls for attention. It takes a person to be extra patient to train these children and who can do it better than the ‘Most Inspirational Woman Awardee’ of 2012? Archana Achuthan, who did her Masters in Counselling Psychology at Madras School of Social Work, started Sahayatha, a centre for differently abled children.
The counselling psychologist, who is also a soft skill trainer, says, “Being a differently abled person (cerebral palsy) myself, I wanted to support children of that kind and started Sahayatha seven months ago at Abiramapuram.” She is keen to give children that kind of life that she enjoyed growing up with.
At present, five kids are trained here. They undergo training for a period of six months to one year for the basic course. Most of them are affected with autism, cerebral palsy and Down Syndrome. Once they get a grip of the basics they move on to the next level. Archana trains them at a reasonable cost. Parents are asked to stay with children from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If Archana thinks the children can be absorbed, she gives them a chance and pays them too. Students are trained to make a range of products such as jute bags, paper bags, paper furniture, candles, painting on gift items, sewing lining for jewel boxes, making diyas and kantha works. Clients from corporate buy products from them, which make her feel rewarded, as empowering special children is her dream. Archana feels, “By encouraging them make such items, the kids get enough confidence to work on their own.”
Motivation came from her mother, who was working with the Spastics Society of India. With her mother she was running a learning centre for kids with dyslexia and Down Syndrome, as many of them could not afford further education. Demaneur and pleasing personality are her major strength and she leaves no stone unturned in making an effort for better life for the kids.
Reaching out to people in person and on social networking sites is something that she loves to do in order to promote and bring to light the effort behind the work of these children. The learning process also reflects in their finished products.
Seniors in school and college have been a major source of strength to her while ideating to decide her course of further action.
Further plans include a training centre on the third floor which will also serve as a full fledged activity room for children. Sahayatha needs help to go about its activities. Those willing to lend a hand, can contact the centre at 98843 61562.