January 16th, 2017
Smt. Vanitha Rengaraj was working with the local Arts and Science college in Pollachi as a Sr. Grade Lecturer in the Department of History. She was then elected to become the President of the Inner wheel club of Pollachi which is a wing of the Rotary Club during the year 1998-99. It was during this time that she took her work to serve the society in a serious way and walked the path to meet the slum dwellers in the nearby areas. She wanted to bring some change in the lives of the children and women who led such a poor life in these slums. It was during such visits that her mind changed due to the impact of the poverty. She found many children were unable to attend schools, many did not even have the opportunity to eat healthy food in time, many did not have clothes to hide their nakedness, many disabled children didn’t have anyone to care for them. All this moved her so much that she relinquished her tenure to start her organisation to take care of the orphaned and the disabled children. She vowed to make a great difference in their lives, and the difference was love, care and concern.
Thus was born SHARANALAYAM, on 29 Jan 2001. She started the organisation in a small rented house with 7 children from the streets, railway stations, bus stations and nearby slums. The family that was reluctant to her wish had no choice but to stand by her and supported her for the sake of the children. However, the need in those days was so much that within a year the strength grew to more than a 100 children. Toddlers everywhere inside the house, it was a commotion of noise of laughter, cries, anger and joy. Children everywhere, one her shoulder, one on her lap, other fighting to sit near her, one clinging to her neck and many longing to just hold their new mother who showed nothing but pure love to her kids as she brought them up with her complete love. She took up her job with the greatest devotion and ensured that the roof above them becomes permanent.
Soon the society recognised and trusted her. Service organisations and clubs came forward to extend their help. The Lions club International was the first to help her build a home for these children at Kinathukadavu. Thus at the end of 2002, they handed over a 3000 sq ft building on the new campus that belonged only to these kids. Slowly the infrastructure developed in the years to come. The area was large, they had lots of ground to play around, they had a dining space, Yoga centre and a separate space for the mentally challenged and ill children too.
In the year 2008, she realised that children in our country needed families to look after them, rather than have homes and live in orphanages. She struggled hard to convince this to the local authorities and with great difficulty she could get the recognition for her organisation to do domestic adoptions. This was a great milestone for Sharanalayam. Today after nearly eight years of hard work, more than 70 abandoned and surrendered babies have found new and wonderful homes with loving parents. Their lives have changed for the best. Standing tall as the only Legalized agency for five districts in the state, the organisation boasts of the being the most transparent adoption agency. In spite of all the hardships, she has never lost hope for the sake of the children. This is the greatest joy in her life. She has been able to change the fate of a child and give them a loving family.
She also worked in the field of HIV/AIDS for 10 years and cared for more than 60 HIV infected children and thousands of adults who used to rush to the community care centre that she developed on the land allotted by the government. She brought the society together to join her in her endeavour to serve these people and built a center that could take care of more than 50 HIV infected adults. NACO awarded the centre A grade certification. And the Tamil Nadu State Aids Control Society partnered with her to serve the people more dedicatedly. The centre and the team played an important role to bring all the infected people under the roof of the government scheme to administer Anti-retroviral drugs to the needy. Today, she is proud that due to her work the sector doesn’t have as much stigma and the people are getting treated normally as out-patients or in patients at all government hospitals. The number of deaths in the sector has reduced and the awareness towards the disease is well spread.
In the 16 years of her dedicated service to humanity, she has made a great difference in the lives of many children and people. More than 10 of her daughters have been married off and have become families of their own. Engineers, nurses, paramedical staff, teachers, trainers, industrial helpers etc., have been born from this organisation.
She is a true mother to all these wonderful children and has created wonderful citizens for the country. She is the mother of SHARANALAYAM.