A Story of Determination

A Story of Determination

Twenty years of selfless service to the society’s most neglected section requires courage, purpose and determination, like Thaneite Shyamshree Bhonsle has demonstrated.

It was exactly two decades ago, in August 1985, that Bhonsle took it upon herself to serve the one of the society’s severely marginalised sections. With the help of the Thane Municipal Corporation, she founded the Jidd School, an institution for children who were not only physically challenged but were from the lowest strata of the society.

The school has come a long way since its inception. For one it now admits even mentally disabled children. For another, the school is now housed in a high-quality structure built specially to serve its purpose. Meditation, music, dance, craft and physical exercises are some of the activties that students of Jidd School participate in. The school has an occupational-cum-physiotherapy trainer and a psychologist too. A special tool room was inuagurated last year to impart vocational training to the students in order to make them self-reliant.  

Jidd School has proved to be a boon to special children hailing from families who are so poor that they find managing a mere square meal on a regular basis a challenge. The students of the school enjoy free transportation, free food during classes and even free healthcare. In fact when the school started providing free breakfast and lunch, there was a marked increase in attendance, reveals Bhonsle, who has been serving the school ever since 1985.

Jidd, which is the Marathi word for determination, is an apt christening of the school because that is what it has stood for, over the last twenty years. The ride has been anything but smooth. Overcoming hurdles has become second nature to the Jidd School management and staff. But ironically, they are full of gratitude. They acknowledge the contribution of innumerable individuals, corporations, institutions and NGOs in helping them traverse the thorny path.

Bhonsle is indebted to the various NGOs, clubs, and individual volunteers who have time and again come forth to offer unconditional assistance to the school just so that it continues to serve its purpose. "When young children, college students, housewives and even senior citizens offer to help, we are encouraged beyond measure." She even mentions the positive role that media has played in creating awareness about the plight of special children.
 
Bhonsle makes a particular mention of the vital role of the Late Anand Dighe and the erstwhile TMC commissioner T Chandrasekhar who helped her set up the new premises of the school. The present TMC commissioner, Sanjay Sethi has pledged his support to Jidd from the beginning of this tenure. Then there are others such as TMC PRO Rajderkar, Narendra Kavade (who is now collector at Beed), MLA Eknath Shinde, Ex-Mayor Ramesh Vaity, Corporator Save and many more officials whose constant support has been instrumental in Jidd’s progress. Bhonsle also mentions the Thane Police Department and its various senior officers such as Additional CP Ashok Dhivre (now in Pune), DCP Suresh Ahire, ACP Nandkumar Chaugule among others.

Bhonsle is aware that her own persistence was supported by the selfless staff of Jidd School. It requires tremendous perseverance to teach and train special children but then the teachers of Jidd School are not known to be driven to such a noble occupation by the desire to make money. They derive happiness from serving the children, many of whom suffer from not one or two but multiple disabilities. A momentary glitter in the eyes of such disabled children is enough to make their day.

It is the collective role such countless individuals – staff, teachers, volunteers, NGOs, TMC officials, and many more – that has made it possible to run the Jidd School in spite of the many problems that it has faced and continues to face. The society is grateful to all of them. Indeed, it is these individuals who deserve to be congratulated for Jidd School’s 20th year anniversary.  

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