She knew that her daughter was a ‘special child,’ and that her daughter was different from other children. But, she was unaware of what the words ‘special child’ meant. She never knew what was happening to her daughter.
Until the doctors told Meera, that her daughter Priya, is suffering from Down’s syndrome. After this incident, she made it her mission to work toward the betterment of children with special needs.
This is the story of Meera Bairagi, a 56-year-old woman from Maharashtra’s Satara district, who is the founder of ‘Anandban,’ a school dedicated to children with special needs.
Meera, whose daughter Priya is suffering from Down’s syndrome, started this school in the year 1990, with an aim to make sure that no child with special needs remained dependent on others. Although, she is not a teacher by profession; she had taken specific training to teach these children.
While speaking to My Medical Mantra, Meera Bairagi says, “After Priya’s birth, we didn’t know what the words ‘special child’ meant. We thought she was too weak and that is why her health was not improving. First, we neglected it, but later doctors told us that, Priya was suffering from Down’s syndrome.”
Bairagi added, “We did everything for Priya, leaving no stone unturned. But, her health was not improving. And then one fine day, the doctors told me that there are a number of children like this. And you need to do something for them. Those words struck me and remained in my mind forever.”
Since the past 28 years, Meera has been ceaselessly working for the betterment of the children with special needs. At ‘Anandban’ special children school and vocational training centre, currently, there are about 100 children with Down’s syndrome, paralysis, microcephalia and those who are slow learners.
Bairagi said, “I started searching for those families, who were facing similar issues like I was. We all came together and formed a group. But, what should we to do was a big question. Then, I decided to undertake the training myself, regarding how to speak to the child, how to behave with them and interact with them, how to teach them. After the course, I started a dedicated school with the help of Rotary Club for the children with special needs.”
These children are taking one step at a time to walk towards the path of independence. Since the past 28 years, Meera Bairagi has been the principal of the school.
She has now taken a voluntary retirement from being the principal of the school, but she still actively participates in the day-to-day activities of the school.
“We teach the children basic things which are important in everyday life. Like teaching them how to eat and drink and how to clean themselves. And later on, we teach them how to identify words and other things,” said Meera.
Meera concluded by saying, “Today, over 100 children are learning different skills which eventually help them to become independent. The reason I could do this was because my daughter was a special child. And, I am very satisfied that I could do something for these kids.”