Bhatkal 5 July 2018: (Bhatkallys News Bureau) The founder and Head Mistress of Sneha Special School, Malati Udyavar was felicitated by the Bhatkal Taluka Working Journalist Association to mark the annual press day for founding the first and till date the only school for differently abled and special kids in 2009, located at Bunder road near Kokti cross here in Bhatkal.
But there is more to her services then just founding the school in 2009 and managing and running it since then. In a detailed conversation with Bhatkallys.com Mrs. Malati Udyavar revealed that she has been doing the noble work since 1997, that is from last 21 years, and more interestingly for absolutely no cost charged at all from the students or their family as she finds peace around these kids who have now become a ‘part of her life’.
The special kids here are thought to learn basics like alphabets, poems, exercises, yoga and dances, while they also take part in Republic and Independence day parade, the most interesting part is students from the school have played sports at National level games and were selected to play at international level but as they did not possessed passport then, they couldn’t take part in it. Despite all this, what is more important for Malati is that the students should learn to control their behavior and should learn self-help like brushing the teeth, using toilets without assistance etc.
Malati adds “We prioritize self-help and behavioral control, as it makes them independent. If they learn to go washrooms without assistance it is more than handy for special kids”.
Speaking about her story Malati added “I started this in 1997 when I was a teacher by profession at a private school here, I used to take tuition classes for my students in my rented house, when one of the special kid use to come to me, which is when I paid special attention to him and tried to get into their world, it was not easy as I had to work at the school everyday, take tuition classes till night and also pay attention to him, and then I decided to dedicate my Sundays to him, and from there the number of these special kids went on growing, it has been a long journey and one which satisfies me completely”.
She moved to the current location of school in 2009 when TMC led by then President Parvez Kashimji, offered her a plot and the building for use at Bunder road Kokti cross, free of cost but without any agreement or contract.
The school currently has 42 students, five teachers including Malati and one van for transportation which ply three trips between 7.30 am to 9.30 am to get these kids to the school. The school has students of all the religions and has some students from some of the richest families, and “the school never differentiate between any of them, we don’t have any spiritual posters, photos or anything, even our prayer in the morning doesn’t depict any religion as such” Malati said.
When it come to managing the funds, its an struggle and headache for Malati, as the school doesn’t charge students any fees, she has to depend on donors for the expenses of schools including transportation, salaries to the teachers, lunch that is served to the students and other expenses.
“It is like ‘Chal raha hai’ we have a couple of annual donors who donate every year, but that is not enough, I have to manage from other sources and donors, which is not an easy job to manage when you also have to look after the school and also get some sponsors and donors”.
“I would request people through this report to help us fund this noble job, they can visit us, mingle with the students for sometime and then they will definitely love to make some donations” Malati adds.
On being asked if she has over the years received any aid from the government, Malati replies “I had been trying to do it, but the authorities always find something or the other wrong in my applications, so I am fed up too. Add to it, I don’t have any documents, proof or contract of this land so when they ask where am I running the school, I can’t tell them literally with proof that I am running the school here (at the current location) the TMC will not make any contract on this land as they are afraid that I may get the land’s possession through court after a few years”
Malati whose son is also completing his course of teaching special kids in Germany, believes the school will never stop and will just grow on and on and on. The next plan Malati has for her school is to convert it into day residential school with more facilities and services to the students while her plan in the longer run is to make sure her students participate in 2022 special Olympics.
(Bhatkallys News Bureau/ Ismail Zaorez)