Astitva – an Introspection

Their intention was to establish a set up for the mentally disabled. One member, Dr. Adkar suggested that other types of disabilities could also be included, making the organization full-fledged.It was accepted unanimously and eventually two departments were set up. The most critical responsibility of creating such a big organization from the zero level was fixed upon the youngest of the team --- Dr. Suresh Adkar. The other trustees who offered their co-operation were…..Late Shri. B.G.Karve(Vice-President), Late (retd.Major) G.K. Kale(Secretary),Shri. M. P. Sadekar (Treasurer), Shri. S.P.Shinde(Joint Secretary), Shri. C.P.Vora and Shri. P.Y. Mungekar.
On 1st November, 1981, the school started for the first 6 month session (Nov 81-Apr 82) at the Rotary hall with 22 mentally handicapped students.Shri Vishwasrao Mehendale, then Director, Department of Culture, Maharashtra State lit the lamp to mark the start of the school.We needed huge amount of funds to fulfill our mission.We started fund raising by holding a padyatra of Shri. Ashok Gori, polio handicapped person working in Bank of Maharashtra.The padyatra, held on 26th March, 1982 on the eve of Gudhipadva, helped us collect Rs. 17,000. Within a short time we managed to raise sufficient resources to buy a plot of land measuring 2000 sq. phase 1, M.I.D.C. Dombivliat the cost of Rs. 1,40,000.

On 22ndApril 1982 the “Bhoomipujan” was performed at the hands of Shri. Jagatguru Shankaracharya Vidyatirtha Mahaswamiji, Shrungeri Math, in the presence of Uputtaradhikari Shri. Bharatitirtha Swamiji. Our organization received the blessings of both Godly figures.

Till our own premises were constructed, Omkar society in Tilaknagar extended a helping hand since the initial place was unavailable after April 1982. Shri.Tamhankar,Shri Sane, Dr. Deodhar and Dr. Adkar fixed tiles on 1200 sq.ft. area of their society and gave the space to the school for two years free-of-charge. The section for mentally retarded was shifted to this place in June 1982. We did not intend to start the second section for deaf and mute immediately. But an existing school for deaf and mute formed just a few months prior had to vacate its premises. This would have created serious problems for the teachers and students of that school. Astitvadecided to accommodate all the teachers and the students and the second section commenced in October, 1982. We did not have enough space, so we had to conduct both the sections in Omkar society – Morning session for mentally retarded and afternoon session for deaf and mute.

We designed a few schemes collect the funds required for constructing our own building on the plot at the M.I.D.C. It was decided to give the donor’s name to the rooms for donations above Rs. 30,000.Following the principle that “charity begins at home”, Dr. Mrs. Shubhangi Adkar gave the first donation of Rs. 30,000 to the organization. Shri.Popat Bhandari and Shri. Shankar Bhoir donated the same amount shortly thereafter. After a few years, we received funds from Major Kale,Smt. Chhapwale and Smt. Dharap for giving their names to the rooms. In 1984, the Kagzi family donated Rs. 2,00,000. Astitva school was named as Astitva Pralhadrai Kagzi organization for the disabled.

On 11the April,1985, Lions Club,Kalyan donated Rs. 1,00,000and the section for mentally disabled was named after the LionsClub.

“Konshila Samarambh” of the premises was carried out in 1982 on the auspicious day of Dasera at the hands of Hon. Shri. Jayantrao Tilak, then the Chairman of the Legislative Council, Government of Maharashtra. One third of the construction on ground floor was completed in June 1984. The inauguration of the premises was carried out at the hands of the then Education Minister Hon. Shri. Sudhakarrao Naik with the then Revenue Minister Hon. Shri Shantarambapu Gholap presiding over the ceremony. Local elected representatives of our area –Hon. Shri Nakul Patil, Hon.Shri. Rambhau Kapse and Hon. Shri.Jagannath Patil were present to inspire our organization.

For the first 10 years, our Secretary Major Shri. G.K.Kale and his wife Smt. Sudha Kale put their heart and soul in the day to day management of our organization. Major Kale passed away on 28th January 1994 and we lost his support forever.

We achieved our initial target in 1997 on the day of Gudhipadva, exactly in 15 years. In 1982, on the day of Gudhipadva, we began fund-raising and thereafter, every five years, the organization completed the construction of one floor measuring around 9000 sq. ft. Finally, in 1997 the second floor was completed, the total space measuring around 27,000 sq.ft.  We expressed our gratitude to God by holding Satyanarayana Pooja.

A plot of land adjacent to this building wasin possession of M.I.D.C.and was used as storage for big drainage cement pipes. With increasing student strength our need for space had also gone up. We started trying to get at least one third of that plot.

We requested Shri. Shamrao Ashtekar, ex minister, Department of Commerce, to visit our organization.He responded positively to our request of offering the said plot free of charge. Like us, some other proposals for a free allocation were also pending with the government. Finally, in spite of getting a sanction from Commerce ministry, the Finance Department didn’t accept our request positively since some other proposals were seen more deserving.

We were not to be deterred. Shri, Jayprakash Pradhan,assistant editor, Maharashtra Times, was also pursuing the matter. In 1999, we met hon. Shri. Sangitrao, Joint C.E.O., M.I.D.C. Finally we got the adjacent plot measuring 2,600 sq. mtrs free of charge. On 19.10.1999 the Bhoomi pujan of the new plot was carried out at the hands of Shri. Surendra Bajpeyi and his wife. Without the blessings of God, we couldn’t have fulfilled our mission. The big donations offered by Shirdi Trust, Mahalaxni Trust,Mumbai, Siddhi Vinayak Trust,Prabhadevi and Ganesh Mandir Trust, Dombivli  are a testimony to this. In old building, we installed idols of Maruti (specially brought from Pune),Shanidev & Ganpati in a small temple. On 19.10.2001, spiritual rituals like Hom-havan & Mantrocchar were carried out in the presence of Shri. & Smt. Sadekar, Shri. & Smt. Mungekar and Shri.& Smt. Bhamre. On 28.01.2000, Konshila Samarambh was carried out at the hands of  Shri. Arun Gujrathi (Chairman, Legislative Assembly, Government of Maharashtra) & Smt. Gujrathi ,in the presence of Shri. Sangitrao, Joint C.E.O., M.I.D.C. and other esteemed guests like Hon.Shrikant Singh, Commissioner KDMC.