“Their biggest disadvantage according to the society is that they are slow, but I think it is their biggest strength.”
Sristi Foundation was founded by G. Karthikeyan, a psychologist born and raised in Pondicherry, India. He spent 15 years in an inclusive orphanage where disabled and non-disabled children lived and grew up together. Growing up in the home, they were all equal; they lived together and helped each other out with their share of responsibilities.
Soon, Karthik began to realize the differences between the life of those with and those without intellectual disabilities. Karthik’s assumptions, of the increased disparity, were proven true correct when he saw one of his disabled siblings’ attempts to lead a dignified & self-reliant life turn out unsuccessful. Although the boy had obtained a vocational training course in automobile engineering, . he was turned down by employers who only saw his disability. Upon witnessing further incidents of irrational treatment, Karthik was moved to explore a way to unleash the potential of the intellectually disabled. He was determined to make people aware of their capabilities.
On completion of his studies, Karthik returned to the same orphanage to serve as a director for more than nine years. He was refuelled with the aim to find a way to train children and adults with intellectual disabilities to be more independent, to be taught a skill and to enable them to generate their own income. To bring his vision to life he established the Sristi Foundation, to build an inclusive village where every person feels valued and can lead a dignified and holistic life. Presently, 30 community members (both abled and disabled) live and work together.
Back in 2013 when Karthik bought the 8.93-acre land, it was dry and infertile. Our community members have converted the once barren area into a fertile land that hosts several eco-friendly projects.
In a country where Tthere is no defined space for the people with intellectual disabilities, Sristi is opening an entire spectrum of opportunities for newer ways of life.