Published: 16th November 2022
Gujarat: How Madhuram Charitable Trust changed lives of 800 children with special needs
Founder Trustee of Madhuram Charitable Trust has supported over 800 specially abled children since 2019
Started as an initiative two years ago in 2019, Madhuram Charitable Trust was founded by Shraddha Soparkar and today, it has changed the lives of over 800 specially-abled children by aiding them. Being the mother of a special child sparked concern regarding the issue in Soparkar's heart and eventually, she committed herself to this cause. The trust is also providing therapies, hearing aids, crutches, speech therapies and botox surgeries to over 100 special children.
Founder Shraddha Soparkar has now initiated Stepathon with the aim to provide 500 prosthetic legs to people who have lost their legs owing to reasons such as accidents or diseases like gangrene and diabetes. This initiative will provide quality German Ottobock (an organisation that makes innovative products in the areas of orthotics and prosthetics for patients who suffer from amputations, injuries or neurological diseases) prosthetic legs that will enable them to walk, run, jump and even dance. This initiative will provide these legs free of cost. The aim of this initiative is also to spread awareness about the importance of prosthetic legs for those who have lost their legs owing to unforeseen circumstances.
Madhuram Charitable Trust aims to distribute 500 prosthetic legs to amputees which will help them start leading a normal life. The objective of this initiative is to reach out to as many amputees and help them stand their ground by being independent and self-reliant.
In an interaction with the founder, we ask about what drives her and more about the initiative itself. Excerpts from a conversation:
You have supported 800 children so far; can you share one of the children's stories?
Every child and adult whom we have helped through our NGO has been special to us. These children with special needs teach us how to be brave through difficult situations. Sanjeev Bhonsle, a premature baby who suffered from cerebral palsy, was one such child. His parents had transferable jobs and could not get the right treatment at the right time for him. When they finally shifted to Ahmedabad, they saw a ray of hope and their son’s situation started improving with regular physiotherapy. But when COVID hit, his sessions stopped and his condition started deteriorating.
The parents consulted a paediatric orthopaedic surgeon in Mumbai who examined him and explained the need for a corrective surgery which would cost Rs 7.85 lakhs, while post-surgical rehabilitation costs were extra. They approached us and we granted financial aid and the parents had to add a very small amount from their pocket. Today he can stand and walk with support. There is nothing more satisfying than to see a child stand and walk on his feet and there are no words to describe the feelings of such parents.
Stepathon was started in 2021 and aimed to provide 500 prosthetic legs. How many have you provided till date?
With therapy centres being shut during the COVID-induced lockdowns, a considerable chunk of funds at Madhuram remained unused. However, I researched other ways we could help people and figured out that people who have lost their leg due to any reason — be it an accident or a disease like gangrene and diabetes — are left crippled for life. They lose their ability to move, and thus, the ability to earn. It was more difficult for those who were the sole breadwinners of their families.
With this in mind, I decided to provide prosthetic legs to men and later to women and children as well. We provided them with the best quality German Ottobock prosthetic leg and named this programme Stepathon. We provide the leg free of cost and support with physiotherapy after that. The prosthetic leg weighs just one and a half kg and enables the users to walk, run, jump and dance when they want to. So far, we have helped 107 people. This leg, when provided free of cost, gives dignity to them and also the ability to lead a normal life and earn a living.
Please share details about the Aqua Therapy centre. When will you launch it and where in Gujarat? How big is it? And other details
Aqua Therapy has proven to be beneficial for children and adults suffering from various physical problems that hinder their movement. Internationally it is being used to treat patients with neurological and musculoskeletal conditions. While Gujarat is one of the biggest states in India, it does not have a single aqua therapy centre. We have been allotted land by AMC on lease for a period of 10 years, which can be extended further to build a half Olympic-sized pool.
Aqua Therapy Centre will be functional soon and it will cater to 20 children per hour and for about 100 kids expert trainers will be available every five hours. This training will be absolutely free of cost. The centre will be functional on a self-sustaining model, where we will have the general public coming in the morning hours on a chargeable basis. With 20 coaches providing free therapy five days a week, we hope that we will be able to make a great difference. Once operational, it will be a boon to special children.
What else have you planned in the near future?
Through our Project Stepathon we intend to help 500 children, men and women get back on their feet. This will enable them to walk again and earn their livelihood. It changes the lives of not just the beneficiary but also their family. The Aqua Therapy Centre is also our top priority right now because we want to make it functional as soon as possible. It will enable the special needs children to get the benefit of Aqua therapy that yields the best results.