She's constantly interacting with parents. "To me it's a very important thing," says Mrs. Rukmini Krishnaswamy, Director, Spastics Society of Karnataka. And to stress the point further she tells us that she's just had two counseling sessions with parents. She strongly believes that the parent's role is a vital ingredient in the progression of various rehabilitation programs and overall development of their child.
In the early 80s when she moved from Bombay to Bangalore, she wasn't looking for a job as such. "I'm a trained professional alright, but for me this is a mission. I don't look at this as a career. It's a peculiar combination, using professional skills for a mission" explains Mrs. Krishnaswamy, once Head of Teacher Education at Sofia School, Bombay and In-charge of the Special Education Unit. When she took over the Spastics Society of Karnataka, it was a small place with just 32 children. Training programs were inadequate. Parents had go from one place to another in search of services and support. She initiated a series of training programs that helped in improve the quality of services and the knowledge imparted. And today, under her leadership the Society has grown. "We offer all programs and facilities under one roof, in a systematic and organized way," she claims proudly. "If you really look at it, everything goes back to the child and the family. Every program is integrated in such a way."
Mrs. Krishnswamy dwells a bit on the creative workshop and how it came about. She'd started similar programs when she was in Mumbai. She extended this idea with the parents here and SAATH-SAATH came into being. The demand for these products is growing and all it needs is the right impetus from the outside world to improve things. "These children make beautiful things," she says. "They may be disabled but some of them are extremely talented." Not just restricted to art; some of these kids are musically talented too. Mrs. Krishnaswamy hopes to find a few specialists in these areas who could volunteer to spend some time with these children on the finer aspects of art and music. Stained Glass is one craft that crosses her mind. She even wonders if a special unit could be created to bring all this under one roof.
She's all praise for the staff and the volunteers, each of who is committed and dedicated to the work they do. "They are beautiful people," she says. "The Society has made tremendous progress all these years and now there's a need to train a set of senior staff with managerial skills. Professionally and technically they are very good. They are good at lecturing to the classes, but we now need people who can meet Corporates and communicate the work being done here. We are academicians, basically," adds Mrs. Krishnaswamy and at the same time cautions against overdoing on the 'sales pitch'.
The uplifting theme is of course, her genuine concern for the children and how to get the message across to the outside world that these children could do with some help. "We want the Corporates to come, see for themselves and give us some ideas," and she gives an example, "Take a class of about 10 children. If each class is sponsored by one company, that'll be a great help." That of course will make an enormous difference.
If there's only one gift anyone can give these children, then give them something to kick-start their enthusiasm. All these kids need is a little help, a little hope and somebody who believes in them.
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