Sangopita was been set up by Mr. and Mrs. Ravindra Sugwekar. Themselves parents of a special child, Aditya, their main motivation for setting up Sangopita arose from the difficulties they faced in finding appropriate care for him in the Thane-Badlapur area. Mr. Sugwekar recalls the days his wife used to travel with Aditya from their home in Badlapur to the Fellowship of the Physically Handicapped in Haji Ali – a two-hour commute one way, daily. He recalls, “It’s really tough to travel with a special child in Mumbai’s local trains. But what alternative did we have?”
Infact, Mr. Sugwekar himself commutes for 4 hours everyday, to reach his Flora Fountain office in South Mumbai. He has been working at the Punjab National Bank for the past three decades.
He and his wife realized over the years that making the trek down South everyday for the rest of Aditya’s life is not a viable option. They say, “After all, as he grows, it is becoming more and more difficult to carry him around everywhere.” An alternative was clearly needed.
After much thought and discussion, they decided to lead efforts in setting up a center for disabled children at Thane itself. They got together a bunch of other parents of special children in the area and they decided to make it a collaborative effort, with Mr. and Mrs. Sugwekar leading the way. Two common emotions were expressed by parents. One was a concern about who would look after their children once they were no more. The other was the effect special children were having on their other siblings. As these parents did not really know how to take care of a special child, all their time and efforts were going towards the same; hence, care of their other children as well as household chores were getting neglected in the bargain. Such parents were really looking for a few hours of respite so that they could look after the affairs of their homes better.
A unanimous decision was thus taken to set up a day care center as well as a residential center. The former would provide a few hours of special education and training to some; and the latter would be a “home away from home” for others, which would provide training as well as all-round care. Both centers are functional even today.
Mr. Sugwekar works as a manager at the Punjab National Bank during the day, and manages the affairs of Sangopita outside of this time. He says, “Of course it’s tough to balance my work and Sangopita. But when I see some of the children and the way they have progressed over the years, I feel special. As I feel that God has chosen my wife and me to care for these special children.” At the same time, he is thankful to his colleagues, who have been extremely supportive of his efforts over the years. And have on more than one occasion lent financial and other support towards Sangopita.