Don’t be deceived by the quiet bungalow in Bangalore’s J P Nagar that houses the Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled’s central office. It’s a hub of activity as you’ll learn as you walk inside. In one room, we saw a bunch of youth at their computers, in another, a troupe of dancers were practicing their routine, and a classroom session was on in another.

While this seems like a usual college, it isn’t. What’s makes it different is that most of the students here are visually-impaired; all have some form of disability. In addition, they all hail from economically weak backgrounds. Samarthanam is an organization that provides opportunities for deserving, young, and talented children with disability of any form, or from marginalized economic backgrounds.

Set up in 1997, Samarthanam’s mission is to create “an inclusive society, free of discrimination against the disabled, where people with disabilities, especially the visually impaired, enjoy equal opportunities and an enhanced quality of life.” Which is why their services also include boarding and education for visually-impaired/physically-challenged students, computer training for the youth, and an Integrated Education programme that brings differently-abled students into the mainstream.

TechVision, their computer-training and personality development center that has trained more than 600 disabled people over the years. Their disabled-friendly school and a hostel that provides free accommodation to 125 college-going boys and girls.

As we headed for lunch to the disabled-friendly school cum hostel. As a donor was celebrating his birthday at the center today, a special lunch of Khichri, Curd, Sevaiya and Chana awaited us. Another heartwarming sight was that a bunch of employees from SanDisk were spending their day at their center too.

Both activities, as we learnt, are a regular feature. Not surprising, I guess, for an organization that has served over 100,000 people (35,000 students are fed through its mid-day meal program every day!) since inception, thus becoming one of Karnataka’s most far-reaching and well-known charities.

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