SPECIAL MOMS, WE ARE PROUD OF YOU!
15 incredible mothers were honored with a cash prize of INR 15,000/- each, and a special Lifetime pass to free services from Sri Arunodayam. This event commemorates our 15th year of service to abandoned intellectually disabled children.
Celebrating Mother’s Day – May 14, 2017 in a unique way, we honored 15 mothers of ‘special’ children for their incredible courage and steadfastness, and for not taking the easy way out by abandoning their children. The mothers received a cash award, and a lifetime of free services from Sri Arunodayam, in a ceremony held at New Woodlands Hotel, Dr. Radhakrishnan Salai, Mylapore, Chennai.
Mr. A J Suriyanarayana, the Director of Karur Vysya Bank was our Guest of Honor, and Dr. Sumitra Shanmugam, an eminent Gynecologist and the President of the Tamil Nadu Woman Doctors Association together with long-standing donors and benefactors gave away the award and a host of prizes to the 15 finalists.
Before the event, Dr. Sumitra (also the recipient of the Best Woman Doctor Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award from Dr. MGR Medical University) conducted a closed-door workshop for the Special Moms who were very happy to freely discuss female health issues with such eminent faculty. More workshops and sessions on new caregiving techniques, mental health, stress control, special education, and other hot topics are being scheduled by Sri Arunodayam for the finalists in the coming months.
The mothers, their special children and around 150 of their family members enjoyed a wonderful evening together with Sri Arunodayam staff and children, donors, benefactors and well-wishers. Each mother’s story, captured on film and presented at the time of the awards, moved the audience to tears as everyone present witnessed the true essence of motherhood that only comes to life through hardship. The struggles and the achievements of both the mothers and their children clearly showed them to be people of incredible positivity and strength.
Some of the mothers spoke of how people around them encouraged them to kill off or abandon their special children – a truly dark and disturbing trend that came to light, especially in a society perceived to be educated, God-fearing and culturally and morally sound.
During the event, Sri Arunodayam’s special children gave an exhilarating dance performance which left the audience awe-struck, and a well-known dance team performed on the most trending song of “Baahubali”. An exciting entertainment program followed in which all the special children participated and danced with gusto – clearly enjoying themselves! Typical Chennai South Indian meals followed for dinner, which was very tasty and much appreciated by all.
The mothers were pleasantly surprised and deeply appreciative of Sri Arunodayam’s Special Lifetime Pass which was gifted to them at the event. The Pass was carefully thought out to provide a lifetime of free services to each year’s finalists and their children. The promises Sri Arunodayam made to these mothers are:
- That they will be given access to regular training programs and workshops with materials to help them learn more and advance in their caregiving abilities.
- That they automatically become members of Sri Arunodayam’s Special Mom Forum – a project aimed at empowering them to share and advocate their issues at all levels of society, through collaboration with each other and with the help of the Forum. Such empowerment will help shape them into powerful agents of change against unjust and rigid societal mind-sets concerning the differently abled.
- Understanding their anxiety concerning the future of their ‘special’ children on their demise, Sri Arunodayam is offering them the option to appoint us as custodian and official guardian of their ‘special’ children. We will network with peer organizations and enable a safe home for the children on their parent’s demise.
A longstanding dream of Iyyappan Subramaniyan – Sri Arunodayam’s Founder & Managing Trustee – the Special Mom Awards will be an annual event henceforth, as we quest applicants from across the country each year to pick the 15 most deserving mothers to honor for steadfast commitment to their ‘special’ children.
- Sri Arunodayam received over 100 applications from mothers across South India and a group of eminent panelists screened every application carefully to arrive at the 15 finalists for 2017.
- Event videos are available at: https://www.facebook.com/Sri-Arunodayam-Charitable-Trust-793664707409451/
100% of the event was funded by a group of benefactors including Satyabhama University, La Renon Pharmaceutical Company, Lions Club of Golden Roses, Indeco Hotels, and Sri Arunodayam’s long-standing donors.
Hear it from our Special Moms
Valli is the 56 year old foster mother of Lakshmi, who is her sister’s daughter. Valli put Lakshmi (who is almost 40 years old) in NIEPMD special school where she is being vocationally trained.
Amuda married her Uncle, as is the prevailing culture in the South, and as a result of the close bloodlines gave birth to a special child. The child did not cry at birth as normal children do,
Girija Sriram, is the mother of 30 year old Aishwarya, who lives with autism. “30 years ago there was absolutely no information on this condition, so I admitted my daughter in a normal school”, she says
Vivekalakshmi is the 50 year old mother of Ramu who is 25 years old. Ramu is mentally challenged and hyperactive with a 90% disability prognosis. He is the only child as his parents decided not to have more children.
Arunambigai is 46 years old. Her first son is mentally challenged but she has worked hard to educate him. With special education he was soon able to join a normal school through the open schooling system.
[Mother of 2 special children, and one of the 15 Special Mom Finalists]
Dr. Sumithra Shanmugham
[President of the Tamil Nadu Woman Doctors Association; Recipient of the Best Woman Doctor and the Lifetime Achievement Award from Dr. MGR Medical University]
[Film Creative Consultant, Chennai]
[An Australian Medical Professional and a Volunteer]
Nanda Kumar Nagarajan
[A software professional for over two decades, and one of Sri Arunodayam’s Trustees]