October 17, 2017
Swarga Foundation in Coimbatore has proved it again that untiring effort will get recognized and appreciated one day. The organization was named one of the 10 best organizations working for Cerebral Palsy in India by Newz Hook, India’s first Accessible news channel.
Swarga Foundation has a core team of six led by Swarnalatha J doing all they could to make Coimbatore a disabled- friendly place. Things would have been different for Swarnalatha if she wasn’t affected by Multiple Sclerosis in 2009. She was working with Audi in Bangalore and life became completely difficult for her when Multiple Sclerosis paralysed her.
Though she recovered 70 percent post treatment, her condition his worsening gradually due to Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. In 2012, Swarnalatha moved to Coimbatore. She wanted to make the World better, she wanted to be the change. She wanted to make India more disabled friendly and accessible for differently – abled people.
“How many disabled people do you see outside? “ she asked, “May be three or four but there are more than 1 lakh people with mobility impairment in Coimbatore. It is not that we don’t want to come out, we do wish to travel and spend time with our loved ones outside , we also need an social life but it is just that we don’t have enough infrastructure where every point could be accessed in a wheel chair”, said Swarnalatha.
Swarnalatha says that there are three reasons why mobility impaired people don’t come out. “One reason is social stigma, there are people, even close relatives and friends who would cite “karma” as the reason for our impairment. Another is lack of self-confidence and the third is infrastructure, we don’t want people to carry us where ever we go”, said Swarnalatha.
At Swarga Foundation, they initially started offering technical assistance in terms of equipment that could be used for different kinds of mobility impairment and awareness programmes on the need of healthy lifestyle and neuro disorders . Later they started ‘Sarathi’ a mobility solution for people on wheel chairs. The van can accommodate two persons along with a wheel chair and it has a chemical toilet, and a long sofa bed.
Major funds for Swarga comes through the yearly ‘I’m Special’ calendar. The first edition of the calendar was launched in 2016. The 2018 edition carries 12 differently abled sports persons who have achieved in national and international events.
“In this year’s calendar, seven out of 12 sportspersons are from the North”, said Swarnalatha. She said that lack of funds and facilities hinder the growth of disabled people here. She mentioned that Insurance companies are not even ready to offer them insurance cover. She also said that not many people associate with the cause of disability unlike tree planting or cleaning public spaces.
Last year, on World Disability Day they launched a project to make Corporation schools in Coimbatore diabled friendly by joining hands with Coimbatore Municipal Corporation.” Five schools were the target, but six schools will be disabled friendly by November 2017. These schools will enable disable friendly access and disable friendly toilets.
For 2018, the target is ten schools”, said Swarnalatha. They also developed disable friendly toilets in all platforms of the Coimbatore railway station, now they have been invited to built similar toilets in all stations under the Salem Railway Division.
Swarnalatha said, ”One of our short term goal is to launch a physiotherapy centre to treat the under privileged. Our long term goal is to launch a Rehabilitation centre for multiple sclerosis, there is none in the country.”