Chennai

Social worker to be honoured with World of Children Award

In 2002, Iyyappan Subramaniyan found a boy with moderate mental retardation in torn clothes standing at a street corner in Thiruvottriyur. On enquiry, he found out that the three-year-old was abandoned by his parents, and was left in the care of his grandfather who was too old to look after him. Iyappan took him in and since then, he and his organisation, Arunodayam Trust, have rescued 325 mentally-retarded children abandoned on the streets across the State.

For his service towards the abandoned, Iyappan has been named as the winner of 2016 World of Children Humanitarian Award. Recognized as the “Nobel Prize for Child Advocates,” awardees will receive a grant to help their initiative grow and impact the lives of more children.

Iyyappan’s award comes with a minimum of $50,000 grant over the course of three years which he plans to use to expand his organisation’s capacity to house and care for abandoned mentally-retarded girl children.

“In the last few years, we have been witnessing a rise in abandonment of mentally-retarded children, mostly girls,” said Iyappan. “No matter how much we try, it is a struggle to reunite them with their families. They are simply not wanted,” he said.

Of the total 325 children rescued so far, the organisation has been able to reunite 77 children with their families, 66 were transferred to other specialised care centres, and many passed away due to their severe illness. The centre currently has 106 children between the age group of 1 and 35. Of which, 60 are bedridden, 20 are fed through nasal tube.

‘More funds needed’

Iyappan said that medicines, clothing and volunteers, to feed the residents, were of urgent need. “We are supported by State grants and donations. However, it still falls short of the needs. We need support in healthcare,” he said. Iyappan will be flying to New York city to receive the prestigious award on October 27.

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