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Ramaleela – The Determined Woman, A Different Mother
"As a concerned mother, Ramleela wanted her sons go to school and get education to accomplish their daily affairs. But there was no school for her children in the entire Warangal District. Whatever special schools – cum – mental asylums available were situated in far away places and they asked for regular fees against care. “What will happen to the sons after me?” was the question that always worried Ramaleela."
HNF AP Bureau : May 30, 2007
Of every child, Mother is the first friend, the first teacher. When a child utters the first word, it’s the mother who feels the contentment of motherhood. But is every mother fortunate to have this experience? A jubilant Mother breaks out when she knows that her loving child is mentally challenged…retarded to an incurable extend. The helplessness of the child, the emotional frustration added with social seclusion and humiliation leads the unfortunate mother of a mentally challenged child to a traumatic state. How many mothers overcome such pathetic situations and ensure lifelong care for their loving children? Here is the story of an exemplary mother who has done something extraordinary for her children that has fetched immense benefits to other such children living in and around the city of Warangal in Andhra Pradesh.
Ramaleela married to a Doctor at an early age while doing her senior secondary studies. She was blessed with two sons and a daughter. But Her family boat didn't sail smooth as both the sons were mentally challenged and the eldest being severely challenged. This might have happened due to many reasons. Marriage at 17 and carrying babies immediately after has possibilities of abnormal or undergrowth of the babies is there; it could be some genetic problems inherited by the babies from any of their parents; or immature growth due to some other reasons. But nobody gave a thought to these factors, not even Ramaleela’s doctor husband. Ramleela found everybody of her in-laws’ family unsympathetic and repulsive – emotionally as well as socially.
The situation couldn’t make Ramaleela fall into its grip. Ramaleela restarted her education till she completed her Master degree in Political Science from Kakatiya University and the LLB Degree from Andhra University. The second phase study gifted her with the best friend Bhagyalakshmi whom Ramaleela met in the law classes. Since then, Bhagyalakshmi remained her friend, inspiration, support and associate.
As a concerned mother, Ramleela wanted her sons go to school and get education to accomplish their daily affairs. But there was no school for her children in the entire Warangal District. Whatever special schools – cum – mental asylums available were situated in far away places and they asked for regular fees against care. “What will happen to the sons after me?” was the question that always worried Ramaleela.
Although considerably educated, Ramaleela was ignorant about the special care pattern that can help her sons. She joined the ‘Diploma Programme in Special Education for Mentally Retarded’ offered by the Rehabilitation Council of India. The major objective was - she must know how to take care of her sons and educate them. Her friend Bhagyalakshmi also joined the course to be with Ramaleela as a friend, a supporter.
Backed by appropriate knowledge to take care of her sons, Ramleela wanted to start a special school in her own town for mentally challenged children. “Everybody in the family discouraged. Nobody extended support to me – neither my parents, nor the in laws nor even my husband.” says Ramaleela. But, Bhagyalakshmi was still there taking whom as the co-worker and associate, Ramaleela started ‘Mallikamba Mano Vikash Kendram’, MMVK in short, at Hanamkonda in the outskirts of Warangal city in Andhra Pradesh in the year 2001.
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Ramaleela had nothing but the will ower. It was a big decision to start MMVK for proper care and education of the mentally challenged children. But once she stepped ahead, she was never alone. Her endeavour impressed many including the district administration. Ramaleela feels indebted to the then Collector Prabhakar Reddy who extended all administrative support and allotted the old community hall to start the centre in the outskirts of Warangal. This was the beginning of Ramaleela’s different motherhood – A role model for many mothers.
Driven by her emotional experience and social commitment, Ramaleela has brought other mentally challenged children living in and around the city of Warangal to her centre. Some are taken as centre inmates and some as day scholars who are picked and dropped by the MMVK Vehicle. All are offered with special care and education. Since Ramaleela knows the requirement of these children, she has made physiotherapy an integral part of her centre. Arrangements for specialized speech therapy is made to teach behaviour modification and enable the students accomplish their daily activities and lead a life without anybody’s support or sympathy. The students are given in-campus vocational training like envelop making, chalk piece manufacturing etc. In order to make them feel like any other children, the mentally challenged inmates are allowed to play, learn music and perform in different occasions apart from getting education.
Imagined for her sons, Ramaleela’s MMVK is now the home to 168 mentally challenged children who are taught at the centre. Ramaleela targets to treat and educate all such children living in the district of Warangal which she has estimated to a number little more than 2000.
One will be astonished to know that Ramaleela doesn’t demand any fees from the respective parents to take a child as inmate. Nor did she wait for lump sum funding for realisation of her desire. Rather, looking at her commitment and dedication, many people came forward to support her centre. Among the well wishers are IAS Officers like Prabhakar Reddy, Padmaja Pravakar (who has organised many Art exhibitions to raise funds for the inmates of MMVK), many parents, local businessmen, philanthropists and sympathetic general public of Warangal. Asked about why she doesn’t go for government support Ramaleela replies with a smile, “who doesn’t need government support? That would help us a lot to serve the mentally challenged children. We approached the ministry of social justice and empowerment but couldn't satisfy the ministry people in order to receive grants.” It was really shocking to know that the officials meant for welfare of needy are needier than the mentally challenged inmates of MMVK.
Ramaleela’s willpower and efforts have impressed others. She has become a role model for many that include her daughter Archana who now pursues her study in physiotherapy and works as a part of MMVK. The strong motherhood and relentless efforts of Ramaleela has built another testimony to the common proverb – if there is a will, there is a way.