Meet Madhu, a fashion designer turned social activist, who is caring for orphaned kids with disabilities

Madhu’s NGO, Icha Foundation, is home to 20 orphaned or abandoned children at present. They are provided with all the basic facilities, medical care, food, and education.

Terrorism, crony capitalism, abuse, patriarchy, and hunger jostle and fight with each other for prime-time slots every day on our television. But the world is still a beautiful place filled with people who are working towards making some of these problems go away.

Madhu Tugnait is one such person who is doing her bit. This 60-year-old fashion designer-turned social activist’s heart broke when she saw the plight of children, especially ones with disabilities, in orphanages. She then made it her life’s purpose to take care of orphans and abandoned children.

Madhu Tugnait (left), source Facebook

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Madhu then set up Icha Foundation, an NGO, 50 kilometres away from Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, her hometown. Speaking to The Logical Indian, she said,

I was personally touched to see the abandoned kids in the orphanage. Nobody would adopt these kids because of their disabilities. At that moment, I knew that I have found a mission in life. Since then, I have been working to bring up these children and provide lifelong support to them.

For this, Madhu sold her assets and bought a land near Kondakarla Ava lake, building five cottages to house the children.

Starting Icha Foundation was not an easy task, as Madhu faced several hurdles to complete the construction of the residential home.

Children at Icha Foundation, Source The Logical Indian

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Madhu’s foundation was later registered as a trust in Visakhapatnam, and started operations in 2010 with only three kids. Among the first three children was a nine-month-old blind and spastic baby, who was adopted by the foundation, reports Yo Vizag.

Speaking to YourStory, Madhu said,

When I went to register my NGO with the Women and Child Department, the officials informed me about a centre that houses children who are abandoned, physically and mentally challenged children who were abandoned by parents.

Witnessing the plight of those children, Madhu took them into her NGO. Kids at her home are generally below six years of age, but Madhu says she takes in children above six as well when they are in special need.

Now, the foundation houses 20 children, with one physiotherapist, a teacher and other staff members, who stay with the children as caretakers. The foundation has the capacity to accommodate up to 30 kids. The children are provided everything, from food and medical attention to schooling under one roof.

On how Icha Foundation takes care of the children, Madhu said,

Since each child has a distinctly different disability, they need various support systems. We have tie-ups with pediatricians, psychiatrists, neurologists, and orthopedics in nearby hospitals to do medical check-ups. Based on various conditions suffered by the children, our doctors recommend suitable medications or treatment for them.

Madhu now aims to make Icha Foundation a safe haven for elderly people and single women as well. In addition, she wishes to scale up the education facilities for kids. She said,

We are now starting a school for these children as well. The education centre would be designed keeping the needs of these children in mind. We hope that more people benefit from this initiative and Icha’s family grows in the process.

Much before Madhu started her NGO, she used to run a boutique, and later she also worked as a volunteer with Bhagavatula Charitable Trust (BGT), which promoted khadi fabric. She has no government support, but uses her own savings pooled together with some limited CSR funding.

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