Hyderabad: Finding the right medical aid and counseling for children with special intellectual needs is often tough. That’s where Prachi Deo steps in.
Prachi is the founder and executive director of technology-based non-profit organisation, Nayi Disha Resource Centre, an online information resource centre which aims to support and empower families of children and family members touched by Autism, Down Syndrome and other disabilities. In a very short time, Nayi Disha has established itself as a rich source of information and guidance for families across the country.
Prachi has seen the issues that people suffering from Down Syndrome go through first hand. “My elder brother has Down Syndrome,” she shares. “He is 47 years now. Back in the days, information on various intellectual disabilities was very less. My parents did the best with what little information they had. The family didn’t even know much about counseling sessions, neither were there many counselors to go to,” she recalls.
Prior to starting Nayi Disha, Prachi used to work as an IT professional with reputable organisations such as Microsoft and TCS. While volunteering, she was appalled by the lack of information among families and decided to do something about it. “Intellectual disabilities are still a taboo, and people don’t talk about it. Whereas on the internet, the information is so much that one might get confused. So, I decided to start Nayi Disha in 2015.”
Families from metros as well as small towns are connected with Nayi Disha. At present they have 10,000 families associated with the platform.
While several NGOs and institutions concentrate on interacting directly with people who suffer from these issues, Nayi Disha concentrates on educating parents.
“When I started the platform, several people asked me why I wasn’t working directly with the kids. The problem is people undermine the importance of parents or caregivers in the lives of such kids. Parents need to know everything, so that the kid’s growth is in safe hands. And hence we chose this path.”
Mother to a 14-year-old daughter, Prachi shares when she was creating the platform’s prototype for the first time five years back, she wasn’t confident if people would even visit the website. However today, Nayi Disha has won several awards including the prestigious Zero Project Award at UN Office, in Vienna. She is also a Salzburg Global Fellow 2020 and recipient of the India Inclusion Fellowship in 2018.
Currently, Prachi and her team are working on expanding the reach of the platform. “While most people living in the big cities understand English, many in the smaller towns don’t. Hence we are working on having the material online translated to Hindi and Telugu. In future, we will add more languages to our website.”
People in need can reach Nayi Disha on their helpline number 844-844-8996.
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