JHARSUGUDA:AN Odia man has been changing lives of the less fortunate in Chhattisgarh even as the two States continue to fight over water of river Mahanadi.
Speech therapist Siddhant Shankar Mohanty has opened a number of schools and children’s homes for special children in the neighbouring State.
A native of village Adambar in Chhatia of Cuttack district, 43-year-old Mohanty’s tryst with differently-abled children began in 2004 when he joined as a speech therapist in a rehabilitation centre at Raigarh in Chhattisgarh.
A year later, he opened an NGO Ummayak Seva Samiti (USS) and a school ‘Ummeed’ for providing education to mentally-retarded and hearing impaired children even as he continued to work as a speech therapist. Currently, 87 such students are studying in the school and 50 of them are availing hostel facility. He spent his salary and the extra money that he earned by also working as a private speech therapist for running Ummeed.
Unable to handle pressure of work and running the school saw him quit the job in 2008 but his dedication towards the cause of special children was recognised by the Raigarh administration that recommended USS as the State sponsored adoption agency.
A few years later, he established another children’s home ‘Nai Ummeed’ for differently-abled children and orphans followed by a temporary shelter home for rescued children. All his initiatives are being supported by the Chhattisgarh Government which has also awarded him for the purpose.
“There are many children in this State who have lost their childhood due to various reasons including disability and death of parents. My organisations aim to provide childhood to such underprivileged children and rehabilitate them through education,” he said, adding that only education can overcome disability and destitution.
This month, he has opened a residential centre ‘Samarh’ in Baramkela block of Raigarh district, 58 kms from district headquarters town. The centre provides rehabilitation to mentally retarded and autistic children besides those suffering from celebral palsy and multiple disability. A daycare centre named Disha also started functioning on July 1 in Raigarh town for special children under the aegis of USS.