For a while before retiring as Managing Director of Infosys in 2000, NS Raghavan (NSR, as he is known to friends) had been contemplating a way to match his keen interest in social service, with an area that most needed intervention. Prior experience and some research made it clear that children and adults with intellectual disabilities, were in sorest need. Compounding the near-impossibility of self-reliance, were poverty and social stigma.
‘Foundation for Action, Motivation and Empowerment – India’ (FAME India), a charitable trust, was set up to address the needs of this very vulnerable community. NSR has been very keen from the start that FAME be a pioneer in innovating ways of aiding functionality and self-reliance in persons with disability, while also mapping baselines and carefully measuring outcomes. These twin values led to the creation of the annual Individualised Education Plans–cognitive and physical goals tailored to each child’s needs and abilities–which broke new ground in teaching and training special children.
NSR continues to emphasise that FAME must create deep and holistic interventions for persons with disability, and to test and refine these interventions to build models that can be replicated across geography and time.
Rohini has been a Trustee at FAME India for over 12 years. She brings to the organisation a profoundly personal engagement, arising from her experience as a sibling of a person with NDD. Decades lived with a ringside view of how the challenges of disability manifest, and how these manifestations changes again and again, over a person’s life, have led Rohini to architect FAME’s Lifespan Approach.
Part of her work at FAME has also focussed on finding ways for FAME to be both more broadly inclusive of the family/care-giver community, as well as to involve them more deeply in interventions. Her stewarding of a collective review of FAME’s journey has been instrumental in sharpening FAME’s focus on quality of care as a guiding value for, as well as measurable outcome of, our efforts.
In recent months she has been reimagining the functioning and future of Swavalambana, our Day Activity Centre.
Having been on the small team that comprised FAME’S early staff, Mrs. Menon contributions to our early pedagogy continue to influence classroom techniques. She was also pivotal in founding Swavalamabana. She led the planning and design of many vocational activities that the centre has made possible for the last 13 years.
Mrs. Menon is an active presence at the school and at FAME’S staff training centre.
Having come on board as Trustee in 2003, Mrs. Murthy wore many hats in the initial years of FAME. Her approach and techniques for working with young children evolved into FAME’s early intervention modules. She was also central to the formulation of the IEP and assessment methodology. She continues to be involved in teacher-guidance at the Centre for Children.
Mrs Murthy was also key to the organisation’s very early understanding of the importance of parental involvement consolidating and maintaining gains that children with disability are able to achieve. She has also played a salient role in anchoring FAME’s work in the broader social context, and creating an ethical internal ethos within the organisation.
Her path into the work comes from witnessing the stigma and neglect to which disabled children are too often subject. She has guided efforts by her co-trustees to provide an experience of unconditional acceptance and warmth to each member of the community.
As FAME has grown and grappled with the challenges of efficiency and efficacy, Mrs Raghavan has, time and again, foregrounded the the motivational and intentional core of the organisation — loving care for the disabled. As she continues to remind her colleagues: the testimony we must seek is not in reports or charts, it is in the desire of each child and adult to come back to us the next day.
She is the founder of Ananya a non-profit organisation that supports underprivileged girls in completing higher professional education, and is also founder member of Snehadhara Foundation, which uses uses arts-based therapy to work with children and adults with special needs. She is the NGO representative in the Grievance Redressal Committee Of RV college of Engineering, Bangalore. Previously she has been Strategic Advisor to People for Animals and has served as Environmental Awareness Specialist at Karnataka State Pollution Control Board.
At FAME, Mahalakshmi is in the process of setting up a series of strategic partnerships as well as creating a long-term roadmap to sustainability. She is deeply invested in showcasing the uniqueness of FAME’slong-term, lifespan approach to supporting the disabled.
At FAME, Khushi plans to focus on combining her technical skills with her qualifications and experience in operational processes. Her early career background in Human Resources and her decade of work in the working with disabled children, makes her uniquely situated to lead FAME’s consolidation of programmes and approaches.