Dhanvantri School: With a difference, for the different.

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If you are reading this article, you must thank your fortunes for it means that you have access to a computer, you most probably know how to operate one and you are educated enough to read and understand English. Good for you but sadly, not all of us are that fortunate. Leave alone owning a computer, or being fluent with English, some of us don’t even have access to basic education and while the Government of India through its various schemes and Rural Development Programs along with many NGOs is working towards their betterment, there is another stratum of people who need a little more than others, who need special care, guidance and teaching methodology and Dhanvantri School caters to them.

Set-up in September 1996,  Dhanvantri school provides education and training to hearing impaired, intellectually impaired, and children with Cerebral Palsy. The school was started by Dr. Shantuben Patel, a pediatrician who in the late 1970’s left her service in London and settled in Kutchh, Gujarat. Dhanvantri school started with two hearing impaired children, and one of the mothers volunteered to be a teacher. In 2009, the number of children increased to around 200, who are looked after by a team of nine trained teachers and six trainee teachers.

Amruta Mehta, an Independent Expert for the European Commission’s Research Executive Agency and also a panelist at Dhanvantri School Board writes in her blogpost about Dr. Patel and her experiences from the school. Some excerpts from the same –

“This was far more challenging. I was used to an English-speaking, computer literate audience that had its senses intact… I was given about 30 minutes to put together a quick pictorial presentation. The response blew me away.

The pictures were enough to hold the gaze of the younger students. As I shared how Jupiter is as massive as a thousand Earths and other such trivia, one of the teachers translated it into sign language for some of the students. The surprise in their eyes bowled me over. I showed them pictures of satellites and moons, and could see them delighted and shocked to hear that Saturn has over 60 moons, to see the red face of Mars, and the glowing beauty of the Cat’s Eye Nebula…”

“The students at Dhanvantri school were able to grasp big, heavy concepts that seasoned minds find difficult to grasp in their entirety. They intuitively sensed the power of the information and the enormity in the numbers and pictures that I was trying to convey.”

Dhanvantri school and Dr. Patel have set up a good example for us to follow. As much as I wish all of us could do something similar to help those children, I know it’s not really possible for most of us to take a break from our set lives to go visit Dhanvantri school and share their experiences but the least we can do is help them keep up the good work.

Amruta writes that the school’s operating expenses amount to about 25 lac Indian Rupees, or approximately 60k USD, per year. It relies entirely on funds from generous donors to meet its expenses.

For donations, cheques and drafts can be made payable to “The Child Welfare Trust”. Please mail them to:

Dr. Shantuben Patel
Dhanvantri School
Near Pramukh Swami Char Rasta
Mundhra Relocation Site, Mirzapar Road
Bhuj, Kutch, Gujarat 370 001, India.

Dr. Patel is also reachable at +91.2832.291366, or at thechildwelfaretrust@gmail.com or shantubenpatel@gmail.com

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