Arushi’s little angels call Gulzar their ”˜dearest dadu’

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By Manju Mittal

Arushi is a Bhopal based NGO in India working with and for the people with disability to facilitate a just, humane and an equal-opportunity society. I have been associated with Arushi NGO for the past three years. Arushi is a place for physically and mentally challenged children with disabilities. Children are trained by dedicated workers who patiently work with them as it can be really a hard task and extremely committed one to carry their noble work.

“Arushi”, the name means the first ray of the sun. Just as the rising sun brings forth a new day, fresh hope, promise and prospects, Arushi strives to bring hope and courage into the lives of people with disabilityand and has a 25 years history working with disabled children. Its states, “Promoting comprehensive rehabilitation of persons with all categories of disabilities through education, training, research, human resource development and other innovative means”.

Our Sydney volunteers and Arushi’s ambassador in Sydney, Shailja Chandra organised charity musical evening in April 2016, where our well known singers Avijit Sarkar, Srijani Dan, Arun Nanda and their team performed creating awareness and raised fund for Arushi. Another Sydney’s devoted volunteer of Arushi, Nandita Bajaj raised $1000 for Arushi by selling home cooked Indian authentic food at her work place.

I had visited Arush in 2014 and was impressed with their project objectives and the way they worked to empower these children and help capacitate them with the ability to work and compete with the outside world. The NGO provides vocational training, medical treatment speech therapy, audio verbal therapy, mobility training, computer training and physiotherapy for physically and mentally challenged children, especially those who are affected by learning disabilities such as Autism, Down Syndrome and cerebral palsy.

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Legendary filmmaker and poet Gulzar has written over 1,000 poems for these children, which adorn the walls of Arushi. Gulzar’s devotion to the cause, his innovative ideas, and power of his poetic words have reached out to hundreds who have responded in countless ways as support for Arushi has gathered steam. Gulzar visits regularly Arushi and calls it his second home and the children fondly calling him ”˜dearest dadu’. “Jahan k aage bhi ek aur jahan nazar ata hai.. “ these words reverberate in the baritone of Gulzar at ”˜Arushi’, home for special children.

”˜Arushi’ Anthem “Aasman Kholo” has been written by Gulzar and the music for the song has been composed by Vishal Bharadwaj and sung by playback singer Rekha Bharadwaj.

I remember I was welcomed with warmth as I walked through the precinct, shown around the large campus of Arushi. Children were quite friendly and wanted me to hold their hands as well as take pictures. Physiotherapy room for the babies and children was quite fascinating, the kind of processes used to help improve the physical condition of these young children. I was witness to various activities that children do regularly and met dedicated volunteers. They showed me the art, craft and vocational areas. Arushi also provides some help to visually challenged children in their studies through ”˜Talking books’.

There is also a well equipped computer training centre for the disabled students. The centre provides training to visually disabled students with speech output and prepares them to work over digital equipment. ”˜Arushi’ has started a preschool course for kids below the age of five to prepare them for primary school. There is also a national helpline on disability run by Arushi. Several private organisations such as local SBI Banks and LIC, Bhopal have helped the NGO in maintaining resources such as computer and school vans.

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”˜Arushi’ has also on board special devoted people with their services ever since the beginning such as Mr. Anil Mudgal who was one of the primary members of Arushi and is currently the head of operations at Arushi. Anil has been working with Arushi and has taken the organisation to a whole new level. He organises various events to help children grow socially and inspires others to welcome these people with open heart. Mr. Sachin Paliwal is another dedicated soul who has played an important role in facilitating a positive environment at the organisation. Being an architect by profession he designed the new centre for Arushi.

It was a heartening visit at Arushi as it helped change the way we look at life. A ray of hope helping the disabled, I had a great time spending time with innocent little ones, who need all kind of support and a nurturing environment. I am looking forward to this Christmas to spend some more special time there and be with its little angels.

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