Pathway’s main concern is to provide quality care for those who are not able to afford or provide it for themselves. Pathway began in 1975 with just two children in a small, rented house in Chennai, India. A. D. S. N. Prasad, an Audiologist and Speech Pathologist, sought to fill the void existing in the care and rehabilitation of mentally retarded children. From these humble beginnings grew an organization that has served almost 22,900 children and adults in two city centers and a rural agricultural farm.
“Every individual should be given the opportunity to utilize their potential in order to live with dignity and self-respect, regardless of mental or physical limitations.” -ADSN Prasad, Founder-Director, Pathway.
A Brief History
The path of life all people must travel can be tenuous and challenging, this is particularly true of individuals with any disability. These require special attention and non-conventional methods of teaching and nurturing to take these progressive steps and fulfill the lacuna existing in the total care of the mentally and physically disabled; Pathway Centre for Rehabilitation and Education of the Mentally Handicapped was established in the year 1975 in Chennai, India.
It was 30 years ago, ADSN Prasad, a 22 year old and a budding speech pathologist and audiologist, when he found himself in the home of one of his well paying clients, as he sat for dinner he found that these people, who were paying so well for his services for their 3 year old autistic child, did not have adequate money even to buy proper furniture, there were no proper chairs or table to sit and eat. At that moment he realized the mistake he was committing – realizing he was fleecing these poor people.
He felt that he needed to change the focus of his life and told this family that he would treat their girl free of charge and this incident further prompted him to investigate the financial condition of his many other clients. Repeatedly, he found that most, if not all were in the same situation. He started giving free services to whoever needed it. As the word got out, more and more of the poor requested his services. Eventually, he took in a couple of poor disabled without a home to live with him.
Prasad worked out of his home for many years under most difficult and trying circumstances. As time went on, over 20 children with disability started to live with him. Things got so bad, that since he was treating without a fee, there were many nights when Prasad did not have food to eat. Prasad wanted to abstain from marriage as he did not want to bring any woman into these difficult conditions. It didn’t seem fair to ask that any one should be married into such trying circumstances. He did not approve or believe in dowry or in arranged marriages so he continued to be a bachelor until, in 1983 he married Chandra, a girl from a wealthy Marwari community. A postgraduate in nutrition, she joined Prasad in his mission to serve the disabled and the poor. She qualified further in education and special education of the mentally handicapped. She sold all her good jewelry to pay for the food and other urgent requisite needs. They continued in these conditions for many years praying and hoping for a better future.
A few years later, in 1989, the Honourable William Sheffield visited Pathway for the first time. An instant bond developed between Prasad and Judge Sheffield and a partnership was forged. Judge Sheffield enlisted the support of American donors which provided the funds required for the present Chennai facility along with support of contributions received from within India.
After establishing Pathway in the year 1975 in a very humble way with just three children, today Pathway has grown into a moderately large institution currently serving over 300 disabled and 250 normal children and adults every day. The organization over the years has added many vistas of professional care culminating in total and comprehensive rehabilitation provided to the needy and the society. Besides serving the target group of disabled individuals, Pathway has opened its door in offering free medical, psychiatric, paediatric, and dental care to over 4200 patients every month. Pathway has helped over 22,000 children and adults over the years. Realizing the needs of the mentally disabled individuals as they grow up in offering the much needed social, vocational, and economic support, Pathway has established a well-organized Vocational Rehabilitation Centre for the adult and adolescent disabled individuals.
Pathway’s saga which speaks in volumes of many success stories is basically due to dedicated and devoted services rendered by each soul “working in the trenches” and for the great support, trust, and faith reposed by wonderful individuals, organizations and funding bodies who have nurtured this organization as their own, above all the success is due to the countless blessings showered by God. With more than two decades of experience serving disabled children and adults predominantly in urban location and in urban slums with fair amount of rural experience, Pathway is now very keen to serve the rural children of India right at their own doorsteps by establishing a very ambitious project to help hundreds of thousands of children from the poorest villages of India.