Dr Prajakta Kolapkar, a mother to hundreds of children from Pra Foundation, has been working for special children from the past 13 years.
Dr Kolapkar, originally from Chandrapur, came to Pune 20 years ago with the thought of doing something different. She says, “I came to Pune to do something different but I hadn’t figured out what but I was not going back so I decided I’ll do whatever I have to, to survive. So I started working as a copywriter. But there was still something bothering me. Something I wanted to do.”
Dr Kolapkar then got married but she, unfortunately, lost a child and that shattered her. So much so that she thought of not working at all. Peoples- person withdrew from the world and became a recluse. But who would have thought that she would come out of it stronger than ever before? She later had a daughter called Gargi, who was also her inspiration for starting her day-care centre called ”Gargi’s Fun World”. The idea being that she did not want her daughter to lose out on the childhood filled with games and outdoor activities amongst phones and this technically advanced world.
Followed by this, she opened the ”Pra foundation”.
Pra Foundation is a school for children with special needs. ”Every school segregates these children according to their disability. But I like them to be together. I don't treat them with typical theories and methods. I treat them through everyday activities. These children are my children, I look at myself in their mothers. I Could’ve been a mother of a special child and then what would've happened? It's easy for people to say that mothers can take care of their children and their needs but what do they know about taking care of a boy who is physically 40 years old with the heart of a 4-year-old? I work for the mothers because I know how hard it is. I want our society to be okay with schools for children with special needs. I think its time people stop judging parents for keeping their children away in a school in the same city. Its a necessity if not a choice.”
The children of Pra Foundation recently completed an order of 50,000 diyas in Diwali, where they painted it and centres of children with special needs in 12 different cities sold them all.
Dr Prajakta hopes to continue the work, not for the children but the mothers. ”This is what I wanted to do. My whole life I was aching to find that one thing and I found it and I will work for it till my last breath. I want to gain the trust of people. I want to reach to a point where parents would say, ’Prajakta ahe na, mag thik ahe’.” says Dr Prajakta Kolapkar.