It is said that only special parents are blessed with the responsibilities of special needs children. This would make Bhubaneswar based, founder of the Zain Foundation, Gargi Bhattacharya twice blessed. Her elder son had a rare type of cancer while her younger son Rean is on the autism spectrum.
On what would have been Zain’s sixteenth birthday in 2015, she launched the Zain Foundation after he passed away a year ago. This was her way of keeping alive the legacy of her elder son, who loved his younger brother and always wanted to do the best for him.
For the last many years, Gargi has been organising many awareness activities to sensitise people about autism and to remove the stigma associated with the condition. She is a big advocate of the idea of inclusive spaces and often talks about ways to make the public spaces autism-friendly. The Foundation also provides life skills and vocational training to children with autism.
One of the unconventional ways in which Gargi has spread the word about autism is through organising bike rallies, including another one of Zain’s favourite things – motorbikes – in her awareness activities. She has also organised the staging of many plays with stalwart casts to raise funds and awareness for the cause.
Gargi’s ultimate dream is to be able to establish a residential centre for teenagers and young adults with autism. Many youngsters with autism find themselves without a caregiver as their parents age or pass away. The residential centre would provide shelter, care and the necessary skills for such young people to become independent.