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EVERYDAY HEROES

Lion Pankaj Maru: Warrior To Children With Special Needs

In 2009, Lion Pankaj Maru, COO with an MNC in Dubai, returned home with a daughter who was suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Children with ADHD are typically inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive. While Lion Pankaj Maru was able to cope with the needs of his daughter and meet the challenges in the comfort of a luxurious school in Dubai, Pankaj often wonder about the condition of children suffering from similar disorders in his home town, Nagda; a small town in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh.

Fully aware of the happening in his hometown, Lion Pankaj knew that parents of children suffering from ADHD in Nagda would not have the means or the resources to take care of their children. This thought worried Lion Pankaj, till it finally forced him leave his comfortable life in Dubai and return with this family back home, in order to create a place where children with special needs would be treated. Thus, Special Need Education Home (SNEH) was founded on 10th July, 2009 - with 8 children, a Special Educator and an Occupational Therapist, in a rented building, with just 2 rooms.

Lion Pankaj Maru worked hard to educate local and central agencies about the requirements of these children and got them to realize the need for institutions like SNEH. Initially, funding SNEH on his own, and then with help of other lion members, Lion Pankaj dedicated his time and efforts to creating awareness about these differently abled children.

All his hard work finally paid off, when the National Trust recognized SNEH, and appointed Lion Pankaj Maru as,
Member Secretary, State Level Coordination Committee (Madhya Pradesh).
State Coordinator, State Nodal Agency Centre (MP Madhya Pradesh).
Member, NGO Funding Screening Committee for ADIP, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, New Delhi.
National Coordinator, Niramaya Health Insurance Scheme for people with CP, Autism, MR & MD, National Trust, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India, New Delhi.

While SNEH is registered under PwD Act, and is affiliated with Social Justice Department of the Government of Madhya Pradesh, it is also a registered organization of the National Trust, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India; the apex body for people with Intellectual Disabilities.

Presently, SNEH is housed in a modern building funded by LCIF, designed specially to accommodate the needs of differently abled children. With 80 children from Nagda and the surrounding districts, SNEH employs 6 Special Educator and an Occupational Therapist, fully supported by several trained parents, who assist as required, taking the number of trained staff to 16.

“In the initial years it was very difficult to convince parents to send children with special needs to SNEH, as they were afraid to expose them to society. At SNEH, our mission is to create social awareness and successfully integrate these children into society, through professional training and therapy”, say’s Lion Pankaj Maru.

Under the guidance of Lion Pankaj Maru, the Niramaya Health Insurance Scheme has been awarded the Best Social Impact Scheme in the country by The Time of India Group in 2013. Although Lion Pankaj Maru has dedicated his life to serving children with special needs, he finds fulfilment in SNEH, knowing that his work is making a difference to the children and their families, across the country. Today, he encourages parents of children with special needs, to seek assistance through the Niramay Health Insurance Scheme and is personally ready to help at any time. All you have to do is mail Lion Pankaj Maru at pankajmaru@gmail.com, and he will be happy to guide as required.

Way to go Lion Pankaj Maru, we are proud of you…

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