Empathy is a great human quality that helps be more understanding and reasonable to the pain and joy and overall emotions of another human being. In short, empathy allows us to breech complex emotions and see them from the perspective of the other. The growing concern around empathy started immediately after WWII when the humanitarian toll was simply unfathomable.
At the break of the 21st century, empathy is important in our everyday lives, especially toward differently-abled people. Madhuram Charitable Trust is an Ahmedabad-based organization founded by Shraddha Soparkar, which has worked tediously to make the lives of the marginalized, specially gifted, and physically challenged persons easy and comforting. Everybody is unique; hence, Madhuram Charitable Trust has been duly fostering an environment that will be conducive to their growth, nurturing, and acceptance.
Madhuram Charitable Trust readily joined the scene in October 2018 under the leadership of Sharddha. Their ultimate goal is to help differently-abled people enjoy their lives in a healthy, comfortable, and empathetic environment where they can thrive on being their complete selves. The Trust has its office in Ahmedabad, Gujrat.
Born and brought up in a business family and later married into one, Shraddha Soparkar has all the guidance and influence required to become an entrepreneur professionally. In her childhood, the dynamic of a joint family dinner-table business discussion captivated her and bore the seeds of her business endeavours. By qualification, Shraddha is a lawyer who has completed her BSLLB from ILS Law College of Pune University.
Her ancestry is interesting, with Shraddha being a proud descendant of Raja Gokuldas (The Royal family of Jabalpur). Raja Gokuldas was known for his immeasurable devotion to God and spent his life working for others as a true follower of the benevolent.
Later, Shraddha married Kaushal Soparkar, the owner of Meghmani Group of companies. Shraddha is a member of Gujarat Chamber of Commerce & Industry's IPR committee and its CSR Taskforce. She also happens to be a member of the Governing Board of GLS University and She is on the board of special olympics Gujarat.
Shraddha realised the urge and power to start her journey with her noble establishment of Madhuram Charitable Trust only after the birth of her daughter Shruti. Shruti was herself a specially-abled child by birth, which became the catalyst for Shraddha to take the leap and contribute something meaningful to the people who do not have the privilege to do it themselves.
While accompanying Shruti to the therapy sessions, the challenges faced by the families of specially-abled people became clear as a day to Shraddha. As this realization dawned upon her, she embarked on the empathetic journey of helping other children and individuals with special needs like her daughter.
The number of people she has personally helped grew from 5 to 10, but soon she realized many people could be helped. This is when she bore the idea of establishing an NGO to support and help the needy, and gradually it was fleshed out through Madhuram Charitable Trust.
Initially, she was confused; however, the law degree helped her understand the situation. The noble intention of the Trust naturally received a positive response and quite the support from everyone around her. Shruti's zeal to rise and smile over her challenges gives Shraddha the power to thrive at her work in the Madhuram Charitable Trust.
Madhuram Charitable Trust is working towards building a culture where the needs of physically challenged or specially gifted people are seriously considered. Recognizing their special needs, empathizing with them, and doing only the needful through allowing medical assistance, career opportunities, and psychological counseling are what the firm has taken to their heart and soul.
There are also underprivileged and marginalized people in equal need of a similar empathy. It can be done by reducing the disparity between rich and poor, at least in necessities such as access to health services and medical care. Madhuram Charitable Trust has keenly invested in fostering the budding environment required and fruitful for the specially-abled growth, nurturing, and acceptance.
Madhuram Charitable Trust is in its 3rd year, and all this time, they have been focusing their work on the cause of specially-abled, physically challenged, and underprivileged. In these 3-years, they have helped over 800 specially-abled children. On another occasion, the Trust has managed to impact the lives of 100 beneficiaries, providing them with German-made prosthetic legs and, along with it, hope and opportunities. These German-made prosthetic legs each cost between Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 2.5 lakh.
It is to be noted that the market has cheaper prosthetic legs ranging between Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 15,000. However, this is where Shraddha and Madhuram Charitable Trust differs from others. They are empathetic in providing the best option available, as most privileged people want for their son or daughter. This mentality makes a huge difference for the Trust independently.
Madhuram Charitable Trust is also involved in supporting surgeries for children with congenital deformities/disorders and anomalies. This surgery usually costs between Rs. 5 lakh to Rs. 15 lakh, which can be problematic for the underprivileged or marginalized population. Therefore, the Trust finances not only the surgery but also the supportive aids and assistive devices for children with special needs.
Among other activities that Madhuram Charitable Trust has been part of include the distribution of hearing aid among the hearing impaired, providing healthcare services to the underprivileged, extending monetary support, medical assistance, and psychological counselling. It has also established a stronghold in running various awareness campaigns and creating career opportunities for the specially-abled.
The reports say India has over 70 lakh specially-abled children and adults who cannot be part of the mainstream due to their disabilities. Among the count, some people are less fortunate to gain access to quality medical care and services. This is the area that Madhuram Charitable Trust has been focusing on. They are keen on initially helping them and equipping them with the skills that will eventually allow them to be part of the mainstream culture and society. Often these differently-abled people are stigmatized as burdens on the family and society, which needs to be changed with a solution that helps them shed this devious tag.
To be truthful, there is no denying or foreshadowing the work of other organizations who have been working on the grassroots level to bring hope to the specially-abled and the marginalized population who may not have the means to have access to medical and healthcare necessities.
The distribution of German-made high-quality prosthetic legs, despite costing Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 2.5 lakh each, ( chose)to opt the route of providing the best care possible. They only focus on letting their beneficiaries access a better version of living.
Madhuram Charitable Trust receives funding from contributions towards Corporate Social Responsibility. It is eligible for carrying out CSR activities for corporates. It has also successfully executed projects for companies in different areas under their CSR activities. Finally, Madhuram Charitable Trust has obtained status under section 80G (VI) and 12AA of the Income Tax Act 1961 Ahmedabad in 2019- income tax exemption for donation. It is also registered under Public Charitable Trust Act.
Madhuram Charitable Trust views success in the joy and happiness they have been fortunate enough to bring to the faces of their beneficiaries. The Trust has keenly realized the sheer importance of physical and financial independence, and empowering the people to have these elements is what they have been duly working upon. Reaching out to the people from the grassroots level and helping them with their lives through generosity and empathy, most prominently, the best quality of services is the ultimate goal of Madhuram Charitable Trust.
"Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life - think of it, dream of it, and live on that idea. Then, let the brain, muscles, nerves, and every part of your body be full of that idea and leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success." Quoting Swami Vivekananda, whom Shraddha Soparkar follows religiously, Madhuram Charitable Trust follows a similar path to success.
In appreciation of Shraddha's work at Madhuram Charitable Trust earned her the opportunity to be called personally by the former CM Vijaybhai Rupani. Moreover, one of the biggest circulation Gujrat newspapers, Divya Bhaskar, awarded her the Certificate of Appreciation for Contribution to Society as the reputed trustee of the firm. She has also received several awards, such as the IPRA Award for Innovation, Wonder Women Award by NavGujarat Samay, and the Times CSR Award by The Times of India.
Shraddha and Madhuram Charitable Trust have received several recognitions and awards for their combined efforts. So much so that they are hugely recognized for their work at the grassroots level. Though Shraddha has her stint in the business circles and is still a prominent name among entrepreneurs, Madhuram Charitable Trust remains her best work. It says a lot about the work she has been doing at the Trust.
Hurdles and challenges are a regular part of life and business. It is even true for running an NGO like Madhuram Charitable Trust. The Trust has faced its fair share of challenges. However, they have always overcome obstacles by giving their best on every occasion or event.
Shraddha Soparkar is equally blessed with a family and a husband in Kaushal Soparkar, who has been immensely supportive, enabling her to focus her entire energy on the activities of the Trust and pursue her business ideals wholeheartedly. From familiar support to divine intervention, everything seems to favour the Trust so far, even during the COVID situations, when all their therapy centres had to be shut down.
Madhuram Charitable Trust recounts its challenges not as a failure but rather as a stepping stone to its journey. However, the COVID-19 pandemic was the only time that stands out when the Trust seemed to be struggling. Especially the first nationwide lockdown, which was initially scary for its uncertainty.
The Trust was specifically concerned about the numerous specially-abled kids around the nation, as their therapy sessions had to stop during this time. But unfortunately, even though Madhuram Charitable Trust had all the means and resources to facilitate sessions, external factors prevented them from reaching out to their clientele.
However, this became a major turning point for the company as they launched their most recognizable and successful project, Stepathon, during the pandemic's peak. The pandemic prevented the organization from using its funds in its regular ventures, and they channelled it into the Stepathon project. Importing prosthetic legs from German-based manufacturers and distributing them among underprivileged children was the project's sole purpose.
Before this, Madhuram Charitable Trust focused on working with special children along with many grown-ups who have benefitted equally from the Trust. In short, the pandemic has allowed them to explore new areas other than staying constrained among limitations.
The Stepathon initiative discussed in the begging, involving the distribution of high-quality German manufactured prosthetic legs to children, has been close to 100. They are planning to end the year with the number 400. Madhuram Charitable Trust has also been involved in helping over 800 children with neurodevelopmental disorders and congenital disorders/deformities. In the coming time, they only wish to be able to extend their support and help to as many persons as possible.
Till a couple of months back, Shraddha, along with one of her employees, who was appointed specifically for managing the accounts and day-to-day affairs, were the only two people handling the whole work of Madhuram Charitable Trust. (Shraddha believes that NGO work has to be done on the field but not by sitting in an air conditioned office)
Madhuram Charitable Trust is very strict with its overhead expenses, as it values the funds received in the form of donations from various companies and individuals. This allowed the Trust to manage the funds and activities of the firm with its volunteers instead of engaging employees for separate roles and keeping them on a payroll.
However, things have changed a lot in the present time, as the norms have become stricter. As Madhuram Charitable Trust is expanding its services, they have hired three employees for starters and have plans for expanding the size of their team going ahead in the future based on the demand. Also, its plan to go to the FCRA is another reason for increasing its headcount.
As a non-profit organization, Madhuram Charitable Trust has many supporters and investors contributing to their finances and human resources and extending support through other means. In addition, the work put forth by Madhuram Charitable Trust has been widely appreciated and supported by the country's largest bank, the State Bank of India (SBI).
Under the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, the Trust is also supported by other companies. In addition, other available individual donors have also been actively supporting the cause and initiative of Madhuram Charitable Trust. The passion deeply drives the hard-working volunteers of Madhuram Charitable Trust to serve people on a whim to make the world a better place.
Madhuram Charitable Trust's dedication and commitment to the cause of the specially-abled will always drive them to achieve something better, and this will not change anytime soon. Therefore, the firm's fundamental values or key principles are integral to the Trust's overall lookout. These principles are honesty, integrity, and authenticity, too, in the most transparent manner. They are only facilitators and are not looking for profit; hence, the earlier values are instrumental to their cause.
Madhuram Charitable Trust has to be dedicated to the programmatic interventions of the organization, as they are for adults and children with special needs. For example, the Trust has been involved in high-quality prosthetic legs for amputees, who can dream of excelling and thriving in their social and economic lives.
The children are the country's future, and this includes the very contribution of the children needing special care. This growing awareness has helped them receive donors and well-wishers' generous support to continue their noble work. It is also crucial to mention that the support of beneficiaries and their family members has also helped the Trust earn its reputation.
In the last three years, their list of contributions has been many. However, Shraddha and her subordinates also realize that these are only the initial years for the Trust, and they have to go a long way. Madhuram Charitable Trust is honoured and blessed to have been able to benefit hundreds of people by transforming their lives. Yet, lakhs of people could benefit from the support and help of the Trust.
Madhuram Charitable Trust only wishes to reach out to more and more people in the next five years to come. With their noble intentions, they only wish to help numerous people that could be helped from the generous works of the Trust.
In the next year alone, Madhuram Charitable Trust has plans to distribute over 400 prosthetic legs to amputees that need the support. The total for the Stepathon project will then stand at 500. The Trust's target can be considered steep, as it serves more than four times the number of beneficiaries that they have so far been able to support. However, they are very optimistic about their success as it will at least spread hope to individuals that need it the most.
Madhuram Charitable Trust is also at the stage of exploring its partnership with a well-known hospital in Mumbai. This partnership will be crucial for assisting in surgical procedures for children with various congenital anomalies/disorders.
At the same time, Madhuram Charitable Trust is also engaged in developing an Aqua Therapy Model Unit for children and individuals with special needs. It is expected to be one of a kind facility for children with disabilities. This model can give a huge boost to the state of Gujarat, with affordable and well-maintained pool services to all the special kids of Gujarat. The state lacks such infrastructure, and if they can bring that to the stage, it will be quite effective for everybody.
According to Shraddha Soparkar, "there are eight steps to achieving success". This can be incorporated into any field of work. These are also the steps that Shraddha herself has followed all her life. And she strongly believes it has the power to help others in their journey.
Firstly, one must surrender to the almighty God, which is popularly known in Sanskrit as Ishwar pranidhaan. Secondly, it is crucial to set up a goal and determine small steps to achieve it. Next, they will have to set aside the goals and focus closely on the small steps instead. While at it, one has to feed their mind and body with good food, prayer, books, meditation, laughter, and friends. Daily exercising is also genuinely important, as eating healthy and indulging in occasional celebrations. Lastly, it is essential to handle all relationships with love and care. All this can be summed up with the quote by Swami Vivekananda, " You cannot believe in God until you believe in yourself".