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JOURNEY TOWARDS MY DREAM
The Sristi Foundation was founded by G. Karthikeyan, a psychologist born and grown up in Pondicherry, South India. He spent 15 years in an orphanage. It is an inclusive orphanage where disabled and non-disabled children life and grow up together. Growing up in the home they were all equal. They lived together, played together and helped each other out. Everyone had her or his responsibilities.

Soon, Karthik began to realise the differences between the life of the “normal” children and his intellectually disabled siblings. They mainly showed in the outside world. Whilst the non-disabled were able to go to school, graduate, go to college, marry and get children or –shortly said- have a normal life, their disabled brothers and sisters were only able to receive special education when they were lucky, but never could graduate or had neither any chance for higher education nor for a vocational training. But even worse was, that Karthiks intellectually disabled siblings were not accepted and were treated with pity rather than empathy. This behaviour towards them made him indignant and unhappy. He felt it was unfair to underestimate their abilities. It was obvious that their potential was not recognized, not utilised and maybe even ignored.

Karthik’s assumption came to a proof and his desire to do something about it to a head when he witnessed one of his disabled siblings’ attempts to lead a dignified and self-reliant life. Though he did not have a chance to go to school, he was lucky enough to join a vocational training course for becoming an automobile mechanic and proofed himself as very skilled. But this didn’t help. In the end he could not get a job because the employer looked at his disability, not at his capabilities and abilities apart from it.

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The question of how to improve the situation of intellectually disabled people in India and maybe even all over the world became his new objective. Karthik’s commitment to it was emboldened every day, with further incidents changing his perception on what needed to be done in order to truly unlock and utilize the potential of people with intellectual disabilities. He wondered several times if the discrimination, the barriers in the heads and the exclusion of intellectually disabled people could be prevented by establishing a community where non-disabled and intellectually disabled adults work and live together and where everyone is provided with opportunities to live up to their full potential.

He saw a need to provide opportunities to empower those intellectually disabled persons who are too old for any form of special education available, and who are willing and able to contribute to their community.

After his studies Karthik returned to the same orphanage and became the director for more than nine years. But he didn’t only want to help the children, his aim was to find ways to help adults with intellectual disabilities, to give them access to some form of vocational training, to enable them to generate their own income and lead an independent and self-sustaining life.

So he founded the Sristi Foundation. Through this he was able to find out that he was not the only person interested in their education, which you can see today in our wonderful team. We are trying to find ways to build up an inclusive village where intellectually disabled and marginalised non-disabled individuals can live and work together, where every body is and feels valued and where everybody gets the opportunity to live up to his or her potential and to lead a dignified and holistic life in self-sustainability!