It took us close to two hours to drive down to Anga Karunya Kendra. More so because of the peak hour Monday-morning traffic and partially because the organisation’s main center, which is housed on a large plot, is located at Mahadevapura, on the outskirts of Bangalore. This is not the most convenient location for beneficiaries of the organization either. Which is why they have recently started operations closer to the city center at Kalyan Nagar; and another at the Church of South India Hospital (close to Bangalore Cantonnment station) to specially cater to folks coming from out of town.
As you enter, you see the main building on one side and living quarters and a large garage that houses their truck-sized Mobile Fabrication Van on the other. Wild grass pretty much defines the rest of the property. It’s only when we entered and toured the premises did we learn as to why this is the case. Back in the early 1990s, when the founders realized that their service was doing well (i.e. in reaching its mission), they made plans to move forward. This was to be achieved through setting up of a Center for Industrial Training and Rehabilitation (CITR). However, a conscious decision was taken to not start work on the same till all funds required are collected, to avoid a situation where construction needs to halt because of shortage of funds. And till date, the project has not seen light.
As you tour the main premises, you realize that this organization is investing all its time and efforts towards one sole mission; which is to fabricate and provide artificial limbs, aids and appliances to the physically challenged, especially the rural poor. And that’s exactly what you witness in the different rooms – from measurements being taken, to Plaster of Paris being set into moulds, to leather being cut to make into straps, to baking of the limbs in the oven. Infact, their TATA-donated Mobile Fabrication Van houses all this equipment; so that all needs of the disabled – be it creating new limbs or repairing old ones – can be dealt with, within the timeframe of the 3 day rural camps that they periodically hold in the villages of rural Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
What’s unique about Anga Karunya Kendra though is that they tailor-make all limbs, which makes them fit better. (This is also the reason why their property houses living quarters – to accommodate beneficiaries – and their families – for the 3 days that are needed to make a new prosthetics). Besides, thanks to research done by them over the years, they have been able to lighten the material they use, taking the weight of the limb done to 3-3.5 kgs ( from to 7-8 kgs earlier).
Another interesting facet is their policy of not charging ANYBODY for their services – no matter what the social/economic background of the person. Instead, those wishing to pay for their services, are encouraged to make a “donation” to the organization for which they receive an 80G receipt. Financial circumstances have forced many to donate as little as Re. 1 yet Anga Karunya Kendra has gracefully accepted the same. It is this pay-as-much-as-you-can model infact that leads NGOs with minimum-pay-models to refer some of their beneficiaries to Anga Karunya Kendra instead.
We came away impressed by their focused structure and also hoping that they are able to expand their activities so as to make their ultimate vision come true.