Monday, August 20, 2007

Mentally challenged: Story of Shilpa

The story of Shilpa is the story of a gentle young girl. A beautiful little bird, born with clipped wings, who in her short life, did her best to soar. Tiny and fragile, with a congenital ventricular defect (hole in the heart), subject to frequent attacks of fits, she was also severely mentally disabled (with an IQ of below 20).

Her parents, Harimohan and Pramila, both doctors themselves, began their uphill quest to make their little girl's life as normal as that of any child. They took all the medical advice they could get, joined groups of parents who shared their plight, in the hope of finding answers. With special schooling, she could say a few words and by the age of 4, began to walk on her own.

When she was seven, she successfully underwent open- heart surgery. Like all children, she was full of little delights, enjoying pillion riding with her Dad on the motorcycle with the wind whipping her hair. She went to hill stations and movies, hotels and on shopping trips with her mother, loving and living each day to the full. Her heart condition had healed but she continued to be racked by increasingly frequent bouts of fits. At the age of eleven, after one such attack, she slipped into a coma, never to recover. Shilpa left this world on 1st December 1995

A child's story - as short and sweet as a nursery rhyme. Once heard, never ever forgotten. Shilpa, the little girl, through the aching sense of loss she left behind, blossomed into Shilpa, the Society for Mentally Handicapped. On December 1st, 1996, on the first anniversary of her death, her parents with several friends pledged to share their experience and give free service to other children like her in their daily struggle against mental disability. Shilpa lives on.

I came across the above article (which is reproduced with permission) while following up comments on my post Dominic Joseph checks out. Mr. Dominic Joseph had visited Shilpa School for the mentally challenged at Palluruthy, Cochin, a few years before he died and had given a donation.

Today the School has, according to its website, about 140 mentally challenged disciples in the age range of few months to 35-40 years. They are attended to by more than 25 committed, specially trained staff that includes doctors, social workers, special teachers, therapists, and vocational rehabilitation trainers. Also on the cards are parent training programs, respite care, and residential centre. I hope to visit this facility while I am at Cochin next month.

The Shilpa Society has, as members, a group of committed people. It includes the well-known physician Dr. Sujit Vasudevan (Ojus Clinic) whom I know. When my mother (Oru Desathinte Amma.) was alive, he was personal doctor to her for long time

Please do visit the website of this institution for mentally challenged at The email id is:

It would be nice if you circulate this post to your friends.


Note: The image of butterfly is public domain.


Lakshmi Bharadwaj said...

A sad story...but nice to know something good came out of it. There are very few people who think like that--if their child dies, often, they just greive, but few think beyond, trying to help others. Kindly post more, after you visit the place and your experinces.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Thank you Lakshmi. I shall certainly post more after visiting Shilpa School.