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How Asha Bhavan gave birth to Asha Gram

A beginning: Genesis of Asha Bhavan

Among the many projects of Param Prasad Charitable Society, is Asha Bhavan, a home for intellectually disabled orphans, that was originally a government run home. When the Society missionaries happened to visit the government-run home in the year 2000, they found a horrible scene where 42 intellectually disabled boys, some with severe physical handicaps, living in abject squalour.

The Superintendent of the home requested the government to shift the home from the present set up or hand it over to someone to run it. The government asked him back to find someone to run it and he approached the Param Prasad Society.

PPCS then approached the Government of Maharashtra with a proposal to take over the administration of the home. Initially some of the officers were resistant to the idea. Finally in 2000, efforts became successful as the Government handed over the home to PPCS to run.

PPCS first shifted the children to a temporary set up in a building that had just been completed for the society office and chapel. The first thing was to bathe the children and dress them in new clothes. For the first time some of the boys were given names. Earlier they were called by their register numbers or the dates on which they had been picked up from the street. The happiness on the faces of some boys when they were called by their names is still etched in our memory. Slowly their health improved. This space was called Asha Bhavan.

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A problem begets a solution: Asha Gram

Asha Bhavan came under the auspices of the Woman & Child Welfare Commission of the State Government. The unique feature of this home was that it was especially meant for abandoned, spastic and mentally challenged boys and girls. However, as per the norms laid down by the State Government, the boys and girls were allowed to remain here only till the age of 18 years. Thereafter they are either sent to mental asylums or put back on the streets. Most of them used to run away from the home as they grew old. We were faced with the dilemma of abandoning these intellectually and physically challenged children. These were the questions that were tormenting Fr. Thomas for a long time and that is when the idea of Asha Gram was born.

Father Thomas envisaged Asha Gram to be a place where the older boys could be moved. They would be taught life-skills & where they can be gainfully employed doing farming, poultry farming, carpentry, animal husbandry etc; and where they could lead a life of dignity.

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Param Prasad Charitable Society acquired 70 acres of land in a rural area for this purpose. Eventually this was developed and infrastructure created, via kind support and donations from well wishers worldwide. The master plan for the project was drawn up.

Phase One involved the construction of rooms for accommodation, workshop, tool room, cattle shed, construction of water reservoir, purchase of tractor & cattle etc.

Through the efforts of like-minded people, we mobilized funds to turn this dream into reality.

However, the upkeep, expansion and running of this institution require regular donations. We sincerely appeal to you to contribute to this worthy cause & help people like ‘Mukti’ to lead a life of dignity.

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Today our children attend classes where Special Needs teachers mould and shape these bright young sparks. They have performed programs on the stage, appreciated by visitors to the school. They also participate in different sports activities conducted in various places, and even performed admirably, for the first time in their lives.

The children are given vocational training so that they can be rehabilitated in the future. We give them training in skills like farming, gardening, animal husbandry, fabrication, carpentry, tailoring, etc. with a view to rehabilitate them. In short, the children have shown great improvement and our efforts are paying off on a daily basis.

We organize district level sports for our children and children from all the schools in the district take part in it. Asha Bhavan Special School and Asha Bhavan Vocational Training Centre became popular in the surrounding areas. Asha College of Special Education stated training in the field of special education. We started training programmes of Diploma in Vocational Rehabilitation(DVR) and B Ed (Mental Retardation). In addition to this we also organized workshops and seminars for children, parents, trainees, etc.

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