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The Deepti Centre, Kerala India
Providing light and hope for children and families with additional needs
Candle for India was launched in 2009 to establish and support the work of the Deepti Centre in South India. The Deepti Centre is a service based in Adoor, Kerala that offers a school, rehabilitation, vocational training and counselling for families who have children with additional needs in the local community. It was started by Dr Susan Mathew and her husband Dr Mathew Varghese to provide an opportunity for education, support and rehabilitation in their home town of Adoor, which is in rural South India. Since opening in 2009 the Deepti Centre has grown from 5 to 125 children with disabilities ranging from cerebral palsy, autism, Downs syndrome, visual and hearing loss and any other disability. No child or parent is turned away from the service. The Deepti Centre is developing as a centre of excellence for creativity and play, which is an essential part of learning development.
In 2008 Susan Mathew was studying in Durham and was completing her PhD in Theology. She had travelled from Kerala to the UK with her husband and 4 children, the youngest of whom Jyothish was born with cerebral palsy. While Jyothish was in Durham he received help and support from both educational services and health services and his condition improved considerably. Susan also received help to understand his condition and management. Having seen how comprehensive services are in the UK for children with disabilities, she was determined to take back everything she knew to her town, and start a service that could be accessed freely in her local community. Since the family has returned to Adoor, Kerala many individuals and health professionals have flown out to build, teach, train and encourage the service as it grows. Our charitable arm in the UK is called Candle for India and it is run by trustees living in the North East who have a passion to see The Deepti Centre become firmly established and become a centre of excellence.
The aim of the charity is to support The Deepti Centre while it becomes established and moves towards self-financing, and to establish the Deepti model into other communities building a network that will reach those families that cannot currently access services. Our aim is that every child with additional needs and every family has access to education, physiotherapy, speech therapy and creative expression in order to become the best that they can be in their community. We aim to promote relationship and compassion and reduce isolation, building families within the local area that support each other.
Candle for India has funded the salaries of the staff and the running of the 2 school buses with significant support from The James Knott trust and individual gifts and fund raising. They have coordinated the collection of specialist equipment donated by Durham equipment services and have been strongly supported by Villa Real School in Consett. They have supported the growth of the Deepti Centre by providing funds for the alteration and adaptation of the existing rented premises.
To date the Deepti Centre has 2 centres one at Manakala and the other near the town of Adoor, there are 5 class rooms and Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and sensory services. A vocational training centre within Deepti provides independence training for older children and produces crafts and food produce from the gardens to sell locally.
The 2 buses and 1 hired minibus each travel a different route picking up children and mothers who ordinarily would never have been able to travel to access the same services.
The Deepti Centre is growing quickly and has already outgrown its current temporary premises; it has the deep desire not only to have its own purpose built building, but also reach further afield and take The Deepti model to other areas of India.
Candle for India aims to support Dr Susan Mathew with the establishment of a training school for special education teachers, who will carry the candle themselves and pass on their knowledge, skills and support across India .
“Deepti” means Light in the local Malayalam language, we chose the name Candle for India as our charity name because we wanted to take the light of hope to children and families, who need additional support.
We thank everyone who is supporting us through Givey, your gifts will be put to good use.
Caroline Molloy Chairperson Candle for India