Satya’s Microcredit Programme- Dream to Reality

In the initial years, Sakthivel and Lakshmi parents of Satish, a child with severe cerebral palsy were working as daily wage workers with a canteen contractor. It was a 12 hour job and very labourious. Given Satish’s physical condition he needed constant medical attention and the parents were unable to make ends meet. They would borrow money from their employer due to which they were made to work for long hours without proper wage compensation (over time). Though admitting Satish into Satya meant regular therapeutic and educational intervention the parents still struggled to achieve basic standard of living. They were quite keen on starting their own business venture and even explored soliciting support of various financial institution and bank. Unfortunately, since they did not either have a guarantee or any physical assets most banks rejected their application.

When Satya started the microcredit program they were one of the first beneficiaries to avail the assistance. The Mother, Lakshmi borrowed a loan of about Rs. 10, 000 to start a Mobile Ironing unit.

While she was able to repay her loan, she still could not make profit as the price of coal was increasing. She then converted a small portion of her house into a laundry unit and even managed to get regular washing and ironing jobs from a resort/hotel. Delayed payment from the resort left a huge strain on her and she incurred debts like before. In the meantime her husband also suffered burn injuries at work and was out of work for a few months. The mother had to work over time in a sweet shop to compensate for the dad’s absence. She took this opportunity to learn, preparation of large quantities of Indian sweets and savouries, pricing, packaging skills, etc… She could understand that the profit margins were good especially if they could exploit festival seasons. Just before Pongal in January 2015, they took a loan of Rs.30, 000 to start a sweet and savoury unit. They tied up with local sweet shops and took orders. They made good profits and were able to repay all their old debts .They also had some money left. Initially they wanted to repay the loan taken from Satya but on discussion and as advised by the Microcredit officer, they went to the local co-operative bank. With a small contribution of Rs 25,000 as the beneficiary contribution they took a loan of Rs. 50,000 to buy a mobile cart and they started a panipuri/snacks cart. Though they work long hours, they are able to make about 500-750 Rs. sales every day with a profit of 300-350 Rs. Lakshmi and Sakthivel feel that they could also diversify into making chips and Indian snacks. Satya is discussing with NABARD to train some of the microcredit beneficiaries to make Millet based snacks which is both healthy and high profit.

Lakshmi is keen on expanding her enterprise and providing employment to at least 3 PWDS in the years to come.

Anil– Satya’s Pride

With the various therapies and special education services that were provided along with the individual attention that was given to Anil, he began to show immense improvement in no time. His mother was so touched by the change in Anil that she soon became a teacher at Satya. Over the years, Anil was able to talk, walk, communicate with confidence and make friends. He participated in numerous events such as Special Olympics running 50 metres and winning a gold medal. He has a yellow belt in karate and has won a few medals along the way. His mother hoped that Anil would be able to study a little bit of academics as well. He proved that he could when he sat for the NIOS exam and passed. Currently pursuing his 12th grade, his mother is confident that Anil can do whatever he wants if he works hard enough to achieve it

Anil Mother says “We suffered a lot. But God changes everything. I never thought my son will walk and speak. But now everything is possible, because of Satya Special School. When my son was in 10th std., it made me to complete my 10th class and recently I also completed my 12th class. I feel proud that my motivation is my son. Now Anil father is also more supportive and helpful. I thank all the staff for the efforts to help Anil achieve his dreams. I am sure he will be a college graduate soon”.

Story of Satya

Satya Special School was founded in 2003. What triggered the birth of the organization, was a 13 year old girl with disabilities who was found tied and locked up in a badly ventilated room for 8 hours every day. Her mother, a labourer had no means or support to look after the girl leading to this dire situation. Sadly this mirrors the condition of so many children and adults with disabilities across India, who may be the most ignored section of our society today. Fuelled by the desire to ‘reach the unreached’, Satya was set up to serve as an integrated centre for disability rehabilitation in Pondicherry. Apart from providing free and quality rehabilitation services to the socioeconomically weak and the underprivileged, Satya is working tirelessly towards making CWSNs as independent as possible and alleviating the social stigma that affects these individuals and their families.

Satya Today

It has been a long and arduous yet heartening journey for Satya. Today, we not only stand as change agents in the field of disability management but are also pioneering a number of unique initiatives in the Union territory of Pondicherry. Currently, we cater to over 764 children with special needs through various services with over 106 staff members. We function in 4 urban and 3 rural centres. Our Mobile therapy unit covers 44 rural villages of Pondicherry by providing home based services to over 124 disabled children. We are partnering with several organizations and universities like the University of Oregon in developing and implementing our Early Intervention Childhood Programme that has been successfully running for three years. Apart from our current work, in the coming year we wish to create a remedial centre for learning disabilities, expand our livelihood programmes further and delve deeper into the field of research.