The Story

The Rajiv Gandhi project starts in 2003 with a group of friends fond of India who work as volunteers in a fair trade shop in Cuneo. Their interest for the problems of the South of the world and the attention they pay to “diversity” in all its forms led them on a trip to Tamil Nadu (a southern region of India). On a visit to Pondicherry, they met a Dutch doctor, Albert, who introduced them to the Rajiv Gandhi Home for Handicapped. It was “love at first sight”.
The Rajiv Gandhi Home for Handicapped was founded in 1996 to give shelter to disabled young girls – who are abandoned by their families or orphans – regardless of cast and religion. In India, as in other countries, being a handicapped woman means being discriminated twice: for being a woman – all over India, the birth of a girl in a poor family is often considered a misfortune as it implies the burden of a dowry – and for being disabled. The which translates into little or no opportunity for handicapped women to receive medical care, education and professional training, find a job or simply be considered part of society.
Kavitha, the Home’s director, has taken up the challenge. Being a disabled herself, she experiences frustration and misery when at fifteen, her legs become paralysed as a consequence of a disease. She feels useless and a burden for her family, grows disheartened and loses interest in life. But sheKavitha does not give up and decides to join a Centre for disabled in Pondicherry. During the fifteen years she spends there she learns tailoring, embroidery, doll-making but, most important of all, she meets other disabled girls. She realises that her handicap is nothing when compared to other girls who live at the Centre and she decides to help the less fortunate by giving them the opportunity to improve their mental abilities and live in dignity. She founds the Rajiv Gandhi Home for Handicapped in Pondicherry. On January 2007, Kavitha died at a Hospital in Pondicherry but her smile and the story of her life are an example for disabled and non-handicapped alike.
In the past, about forty disabled girls and six orphans are sheltered at Rajiv Gandhi Home where they are given food, clothes and a place to sleep. Some of them are completing their studies while the others learn embroidery and make natural incense sticks.
At present, in the new disabled-friendly home, that we are built thanks your donations, live thirty disabled girls who make a range of products (from baby bibs to bookmarks to table cloth to napkins) or make natural incense sticks. Then there is the school and a nursery school. Unfortunately the Centre for Disabled is not independent yet, and we will support them until they will be completely autonomy.
Annamary is the new director after Kavitha’s death, but they seek to keep alive the spirit and vision of Kavitha in all the activities they take up.
The Rajiv Gandhi Home has been conferred a number of distinctions over the years:
Best Home for Handicapped in Pondicherry, conferred by Pondicherry’s Governor on 03/12/1998;
BEST managed Home for Handicapped in Pondicherry, conferred on 03/12/2000;
Sadguru Gnana nanda, conferred by the city of Chennai (Madras) on 16/02/2001;
Distinction for excellence conferred by the Karate Social Welfare;
The Pondicherry Trust conferred the distinction of “Puduvai Teresa” on Mrs. Kavitha for her valuable contribution to the community of Pondicherry on 10/07/2001;
Distinctions conferred by a number of organizations, included the Junior Chamber Club and the Lions Club Mother City of Pondicherry.

At the Rajiv Gandhi Home life is simple but decent. Unfortunately, there is a problem: the house is rented, there is insufficient space and girls with handicaps like blindness have to be turned down because of the existing architectural barriers.
The Rajiv Gandhi Home for Handicapped Italy Onlus – an association based exclusively on volunteer work, was set up to raise funds for a new Centre with more space available and no architectural barriers. In March 2003 a plot of land was acquired with the help of the Dutch doctor. Thanks to te efforts and commitment of the deputy chairman of the association, Paolo Toscano – who lives in Tamil Nadu at present – the girls sheltered in the Home have been actively involved in the project. A lot of progress has been made despite initial difficulties and thanks to San Paolo società cooperativa sociale onlus – that has supported the project from its beginning –it has been possible to import and sell incense sticks and embroidery work in Italy made by the girls of the Rajiv Gandhi Home.
The project was intended to involve the local community, too – a sort of “project in the project”: for instance, the paper used for incense packaging is made locally as well as the fabric for the embroidered bags which comes from a small local association of women with leprosy.
Mother Theresa once said: “What is not given is lost”. These words, together with an Indian say that goes: “Hope is like a county trail: it forms when people start walking” have always inspired the association. This association and its volunteers have decided to follow this path: they know they won’t be alone.

Our Mission

In the world, there are more than half a million disabled people. 80% of them live in the so-called “developing countries”. Less than 2% have access to care. In most cases, their disability prevents them from receiving education, finding a job, enjoying the rights and opportunities granted to their fellow-citizens. In such countries, being disabled means being socially and economically discriminated: the handicapped are the poorest among the poor, excluded from progress and unable to make their voices heard. The United Nations have defined the problem of the handicapped in the developing countries the “silent emergency”. That is why any attempt at tackling the problem seriously would require, besides medical action aiming at prevention and rehabilitation, also policies to lift social barriers and eradicate prejudice as well as  offer the disabled equal opportunities.

Board Members:

Sabrina Micalizzi
Sabrina MicalizziPresident

Giammaria Burzi
Giammaria BurziV-President

Alessandra Vigna Taglianti
Alessandra Vigna TagliantiSecretary