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Building an inclusive environment for the differently-abled people is one of the core values behind a civil and humanitarian society. Thanks to the efforts of the members of Icha foundation, who are striving to build a shelter for the abandoned kids with physical and mental disabilities. Based out of Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India, Icha Foundation is dedicated towards working for kids from poor and marginalized backgrounds, especially those who have been discarded by their own parents for being born disabled.
Located on the banks of Kondakarla Ava, a fresh water lake, nearly 50 kilometers away from Visakhapatnam, the homely environment of Icha foundation aims to foster security and dignity for the differently-abled kids. Each abandoned kid with disability, who has been rescued by this foundation, comes with his own challenges. But the volunteers and caretakers at Icha campus work towards providing all that they need with sheer dedication and empathy.
Leaving behind a successful career in the fashion designing industry, Madhu Tugnait followed her desire to do something for the society which led her to establish Icha foundation. Giving up her job and city comforts in order to find contentment in her work through service for humanity, she has successfully built a secure environment for destitute children.
Previously, she volunteered with BCT, a charitable trust promoting hand spun khadi fabric. Later on her visit to Shishu Griha orphanage made her determined to do something for the differently-abled children.
While speaking to The Logical Indian, Madhu shares, “I was personally touched to see the abandoned kids in the orphanage. Nobody would adopt these kids because of their disabilities. At that moment, I knew that I have found a mission in life. Since then, I have been working to bring up these children and provide lifelong support to them.”
From selling her assets to buy land for this foundation to going through multiple legal formalities, her conviction and determination keeps her going despite all the shortcomings. Also, she has received an award at the ICICI #FundYourOwnWorth Initiative for working on such an important social cause.
Formally registered as a trust in Vizag, it started operating in 2010 with just three children. The Icha foundation now has eleven children and it has the capacity to accommodate up to thirty. It provides them housing, food, medical attention, schooling and most importantly what they seek- love. One of the main visions behind this foundation is that they seek a world of hope, tolerance and social justice where disabled children are prevented from any kind of harassment or exploitation. They believe in fostering their disability with patience and compassion even though it may challenge them at times.
“Since each child has a distinctly different disability, they need variously different support systems. We have tie ups with pediatricians, psychiatrists, neurologists, orthopedicians in nearby hospitals to provide children’s medical check-ups. Based on various conditions suffered by the children, our doctors recommend suitable medications or treatment for them,” said Madhu. Although there might be lack of proper funding and incentives from the government, they have been inculcating a healthy environment where all the inmates and children live together like a big family.
For bringing the Icha premises to its current state, Madhu Tugnait has endured many trials and accusations which came in her way. From the construction of the campus to procuring basic facilities that would be required to run, it has been a tough battle altogether. While talking about her experiences with The Logical Indian, she shares “I faced many challenges in the course of my journey. I was also constantly frustrated by the problems with the labours in the course of construction of the building which led to the work being delayed. Once the construction was completed, another issue was to ensure the supply of electricity to the shelter. This consumed a lot of time due to the bureaucratic hurdles which I had to overcome.”
Despite facing multiple challenges, she remains thankful to all those who have vested their efforts and trust in the organization. With the abandoned, disabled kids from poor backgrounds at the center of Icha foundation, they aim to overcome each challenge which they face while handling them on daily basis with hope and compassion.
Embracing the challenges that come with differently-abled kids has led them to advocate a diverse and inclusive environment where even such kids would be able to enjoy precious little moments of life with love and laughter. The meaning of Icha is ‘desire’ and with this foundation Madhu’s desire to help humanity has also found fulfillment.
The Logical Indian salutes the efforts of the members of Icha Foundation for working towards creating an inclusive environment for differently-abled kids.
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