Bantry reaches out to children in India

Posted on: 10th June, 2016

Category: Features

Contributor: Mary O'Brien

West Cork woman Angela Muckley travelled to rural India in February to visit ‘Adharana’, a special school for the mentally challenged. Since then, with the help of the people of Bantry and the wider West Cork area, Angela has been on a mission to raise funds to help the school improve their equipment and facilities.

Angela’s introduction to ‘Adharana’ came through Narayana Turlapati, who has been visiting Bantry annually with his wife Padmini, since the Air India crash in 1985. Narayana and Padmini lost their two only sons in the crash, which saw over 300 people, including 80 children, perish off the Irish coast. Over the years, strong ties and friendships have formed between the returning families and locals and Angela now hosts an annual dinner for the visiting guests at her home in Bantry.

Businessman Narayana has a registered trust in memory of his children, the ‘Sanjay Deepak Children Trust’, which gives financial aid and advice towards the basic rehabilitation of underprivileged children, helping a number of institutions, one of which is ‘Adharana’ near Hyderabad in India.

“‘Adharana’ school, a registered charity, was set up 10 years ago by a young couple to help underprivileged children with disabilities who were abandoned by their parents due to their poor economic situation,” explains Narayana.

“I was touched at their selfless service in providing help to these children with mental and physical disabilities. Most of these children are born to labourers living on minimum wage who cannot afford to look after them. The couple and the few teachers who volunteer at the school bring the children out of the poor slums, providing them with a basic education and vocational training.”

“Although a registered charity, the school does not receive any sort of financial aid from the Government or any NGO in the city. Funds for the school are solely raised through donations”

Angela was deeply affected by her experience at ‘Adharana’, where she saw the stark conditions and poor facilities that the children and staff have to deal with every day. The children, who learn how to make small crafts to sell, to help keep the school open, are encouraged by the volunteer staff to learn skills and to play. They are also given speech therapy and physiotherapy.

“One little boy came over and gave me a big hug. At first I thought he was an ald man but he was only 14,” says Angela emotionally.

“Before they were taken in by this school, many of these children would have had to scavenge food off dumps. Now they’re encouraged to play and make little crafts and given a purpose in life.”

With over 50 children attending the school, Narayana estimates that €3,000 would provide an extra meal (they currently can only afford to give them one) for each of the children for a year and also help with purchasing extra much-needed equipment. At present, the school has only one exercise bike, one physiotherapy table, and one toilet.

As Narayana is one of the sponsors of the annual ‘Air India Scholarship Awards’ at Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí, Angela felt it was fitting to approach the Bantry students to help with fundraising for ‘Adharana’. The school held a film day at the local cinema for students, with all the money going to the fund. The free use of the cinema was generously provided by Cinemax Bantry owner Stephen Keohane. With other groups, including the Bantry ICA, contributing to the fundraising efforts, Angela is thrilled with the response of the local people.

“Any amount of financial help will directly reach the disadvantaged and underprivileged children in Adharana who desperately need help for survival,” says Narayana. “Without support, the school will not survive.”

You can make a donation to the fund for ‘Adharana Special School’ at Bantry Credit Union, A/C 17674C.

Contact Angela directly at 087 2252901.

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