Saranya: THIRD-EYE Center for Autism

Tell something about yourself….
"Saranya, from Pollachi, a small town in Coimbatore. I belong to an orthodox family and I was married at 18. Then I moved abroad after doing my MBA and worked as a technical recruiter in a consulting firm. I worked in London for 2 years. Currently I take care of “Sharanalayam” as a Secretary."

I am also an American board certified associate behavior analyst (BCABA). 

Movement out of corporate to where you are placed now..tell us about how you landed here?
"One fine day we decided to leave our jobs and move back to India to stay with my parents inside Sharanalayam campus. The main reason was to support my mom to run this.
However, my husband who was into hospitality business started a restaurant in Pollachi."

About Sharanalayam
Sharanalayam was started in 2000 by my mother Vanitha Rengaraj in a rental building and presently sits in a 3-acre campus and 200 inmates:
  • Sharanalayam Dhaya: A Home for the Orphans, Street Children, Children of CSW’s and Beggars). More than 100 normal children find home here. Love, care and concern is shown to each child and the children brought from the streets, orphaned, and un-cared for, are given a new life here.
  • Sharanalayam Jyothi: A Home for the Mentally Challenged ) More than 55 mentally challenged children and adults picked up from the streets or orphaned are taken care here.
  • Sharanalayam Jheevan: A Home for the HIV/AIDS infected and affected Adults and Children). About 15 innocent children suffering for no mistake of theirs and infected with HIV/AIDS are taken care here and are given a painless death. Even adults are housed here.
  • Sharanalayam - Sweehar: Licensed Adoption Centre to give infants eligible for adop- tion on in-country and inter-country adoption. This unit is also recognised by the Government of Tamil nadu. It is the only recognised adoption unit in the districts of Nilgiris, coimbatore, tirupur, Erode.
  • Sharanalayam - Third Eye: It is a learning center for Autism and the only center in the coimbatore district to offer ABA therapy. Kids from all over the world and children outside coimbatore dist move to kinathukadavu to take ABA therapy from Third Eye.
How did you equip yourself to do this kind of job?
The primary challenge in this field is to avoid confusion between autism and mentally retarded people - both are treated the same. For this firstly I learnt by observing the special educators. Even here the challenge is that in India special B.Ed in autism is available in last 2 years only. I took a decision to study on the therapies in US through the American board exam – only 35 people in India are certified by the American board.
About daily challenges…. 
With autism, primarily lack of awareness is the major challenge. We conduct lot of awareness campaigns and also encourage teachers who can identify autism and talk to parents. The most recent campaign is the “Go blue for autism” conducted in Coimbatore city. We also see a lot of social stigma from parents who feel that their kids need not go to special school, hence try to continue in normal school. Even with these, it’s going to take close to 10 years for everyone to say that they are aware of autism!

Next part lies with putting down problem behavior. Here at 'Third Eye center for Autism', we do a detailed reporting on the child – what to do, what are the behaviors, what is the plan to educate etc. Once it is done, we need to put enough efforts to create a life skill for autistic through vocational training and integrate them back to society or mainstream schooling

And most importantly, getting the media's attention and involvement can take our awareness campaigns to a long long way!

With regard to Sharanalayam as a whole, we always struggle to make our ends meet to feed 200 loving souls. 
What it takes to be an Social Entrepreneur…
Patience….patience….until awareness is created within the society.
What are your current achievement and future plans..
"Third Eye has become one of the best centers for Autism in Tamil Nadu. 

We are planning to start a center free of cost for poor who cannot afford ABA therapy. We will also continue our efforts to create awareness of autism and to create an inclusive environment for the Autistic children and adults.
We are also very proud and happy that many children from Sharanalayam have successfully completed college and many girls were happily married off and leading a happy life"  

How do you sustain your venture?
Sharanalayam mainly sustains on donation for the daily needs. We also have volunteers who collect vegetables from the market.

Also the income from the Retirement Community of Sharanalayam offers support.
Who is behind your success?
“My Mom – one who pushed me into this (in a more positive way) motivated me and integrated me into life goal – she is the person behind the creation of this organization. Our Safeguarding lifeboat. 
Next is my Husband – who left all the luxury and the job that he was doing in US/UK and came to India, just because I want to pursue this. He provides all kind of support including financial support and is my backbone.”

Some thoughts for other Women...

 Anything is possible. We decide our own fate. We can never blame others for whom we are now. Keep learning new stuffs. Never regret about the past and see what motivates you and move towards that. Life is fun and celebrate your life. 


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