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Alberta Minister's Visit: On 16th January 2004, Hon. Gene Zwozdesky, Minister for Community Development from the provincial Government of Alberta visited the project site of our NGO partner, Vatsalya Trust, in Mumbai. He is also the minister responsible for the Wild Rose Foundation which provides matching funds to our international development projects. He spent nearly two hours at the project site inquiring about the activities of the Trust, holding discussions with the trustees and the staff and conversing with the children in the orphanage. Vatsalya Trust's main activity is development of orphans deserted on streets of Mumbai, children from broken families and court-committed children. The Trust makes every effort to find families willing to adopt these children. MSSO, in cooperation with the Vedanta Society of Calgary, completed a project to help court-committed children and save them from being recruited as child laborers.


Honorable Gene Zwozdesky with orphans at Vatsalya Trust


Schizophrenia-Awareness and Reintegration

This is a major project undertaken by MSSO with participation of Schizophrenia Awareness Association (SAA) and K.S. Wani Memorial Trust. The project has many facets.

Rehabilitation Activities: Vidyadhar Bapat, a dedicated SAA volunteer, has initiated a rehabilitation activity since 15th May 2004 involving physical exercises and various games for the participants of the self-help group run by SAA. The group meets three days a week, for one hour at the Deccan Gymkhana Club. The Club has kindly accorded permission for use of their facilities free of cost till 31st July 2005. The program is based on the concept of sports forming a part of the treatment for mental illness. The activity consists of warming up/stretching, brisk walk, games, floor exercises, pranayama, yoga and other relaxation techniques. The participants immensely enjoy the activity and the absenteeism is almost negligible. Nishreen Poonawala (psychologist), Mrs. Neelima Bapat and Smita Godse (volunteers) assist Mr. Bapat in the supervision of this activity.
The respective doctors and caregivers have reported remarkable improvement in the mental health of participants, in all respects. The side effects of medication have been reduced and the confidence level and the social interaction skills have been noticeably enhanced. Dr. Sujala Watve, a psychologist, is conducting research to measure the effectiveness of this sport therapy on the 25 participants. She has designed checklist of 50 points for measuring the effectiveness of the therapy.
Another activity Mr. Bapat has initiated to help in the rehabilitation of the self-help group participants is 'Antarnad', a variety entertainment program. All members of the self-help group, including caregivers and volunteers, participate in the staging of the program. Besides the presentation on the day of the performance, the participants get an opportunity to rehearse together for several .evenings prior to . the day of the




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performance. This activity encourages the self-help group members to bring out their hidden talents, by instilling confidence in them. A variety of entertainment items, such as drama, poetry, western dance, Marathi-Hindi songs, musical cricket, enhances socialization opportunities for the members.
SAA's self-help group, Eklavya, uses a Recovery Method developed and simplified by the well-known neuro-psychiatrist Dr. Abraham Low. Mr. Gurudatt Kundapurkar and Prof. Anil Vartak provide supervision and guidance to the group members in the application of the method. The method
empowers the patient with practical tools. With consistency and resolve the patient acquires the skill over time and derives relief from disturbing events. The feeling of helplessness and dependence gradually disappears and is replaced by self-respect, confidence and initiative.
Daycare Centre: When the daycare centre will be ready, the rehabilitation activities conducted by Mr. Vidyadhar Bapat will be moved to the new facility and its frequency will be increased to six days a week. K.S. Wani Memorial Trust entered into an agreement with a developer to construct a 5000 square foot facility, with large open space adequate for daycare activities, more than six months ago, in the last week of February. However, the bureaucratic hurdles created by the local authorities have held up the construction project.
Publications: As part of an awareness program, the NGO partners last year published a Marathi book, Schizophrenia - Ek Navi Jaaniv. It has been very well received, not only by the families afflicted with Schizophrenia but also by the general public. The popularity of the Marathi edition led to publication of Schizophrenia - Ek Naya Ehasas, a Hindi translation, released in Nagpur on 20th June 2004. SAA is expanding the target group for its publications. For creating awareness amongst Medical General Practitioners and for providing them with guidance on treating schizophrenia patients SAA has published a book titled "Divided Mind - A Handbook of Schizophrenia." Dr. Ulhas Luktuke, a leading psychiatrist from Pune, has edited the book. Thirty-seven authors, specializing in different areas of treatment of Schizophrenia, have contributed articles for this book.
Extension Activity: SAA activities in Pune have attracted attention from various cities in Maharashtra and individuals from the NRI community from North America. As reported in the last newsletter, Nashik has developed a strong self-help group. The group hosted a Caregivers' Training Course for 32 caregivers over a period of eight days, 7th till 14th August, with assistance from SAA. During the concluding session, the participants expressed their feelings in prose and poetry and stated that the course has helped them in understanding and dealing with the afflicted members in their families.
Dr. Vijaya Bapat from Cary, North Carolina, in U.S.A. provided financial assistance to start a self-help group in Nagpur. With her initiative and assistance, SAA formed a task force with Nishreen Poonawala as the coordinator. To formally launch the activity in Nagpur, a public meeting, sponsored by Lokmat (Nagpur) along with Nagpur chapters of Indian Psychiatric Society and Indian Medical Association, was held on 20th June 2004. About 300 persons attended the meeting. Dr. Vijaya Bapat specially traveled to Nagpur from U.S.A. to attend this meeting. The groups in Nashik and Nagpur will eventually be registered as SAA chapters in those respective cities.
Awareness Movie: As part of an awareness program, our partners have produced a feature film that tries to demystify schizophrenia and give it a human face. It is directed by the well known director duo Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukthankar. It received rave reviews in most of the major newspapers in Maharashtra. Saptahik Sakal made it a cover story for their edition published on 31st July 2004.



The film operates on the simple theme of a family coming to terms with the mental illness of Schizophrenia and learning to live with it, realizing that the illness is not curable, but can be controlled with medication. Atul Kulkarni, who played the main role of the afflicted person, got so much engrossed in his role and touched with the experience that he composed a poem which nicely sums up the chaos in the minds of those afflicted with the illness. The movie concludes with that poem.


No drumbeats but the wild is awakened,
Bird knows the nest but the path is broken
No one knows why the lost bird flutters
Chaos…. Chaos….

Devrai is now screened in commercial theatres in Pune and Mumbai and soon it will move to other cities in Maharashtra. The movie also had an impact beyond the normal audience. Psychiatrist Dr. Anand Nadkarni could not resist writing a book "Devraichya Sawalit" (in the Shadow of Devrai) based on the movie. It documents events that have gone on behind the scenes, in conceiving the idea of the movie and producing it effectively. It compares scenes and episodes in Devrai with those in other films, which also deal with Schizophrenia, such as Beautiful Mind. The book, published by Majestic Prakashan, was released in Mumbai on 8th August 2004 and in Pune on 27th August 2004 at the hands of Dr. Shriram Lagoo, a well-known actor and social activist.
Devrai was screened for some of the Executive members of Schizophrenia Society of Alberta (SSA) in Edmonton, Canada. The following is a summary of the comments of the viewers. Devrai is a positive, hopeful and uplifting film. … It is a topnotch educational tool. … Devrai puts the viewer 'inside the head' of a person with a chronic mental illness resulting in greater compassion and understanding for people living with a mental illness. … Stigma and subsequent discrimination are dealt with in a positive fashion. … It dramatically illustrates the difficulties that families have in trying to cope with mental illness. … Overall, an excellent film with substantial potential to educate, particularly within the Indo-Canadian community in which mental illness usually results in shame and social isolation for families afflicted by it."


Dr. Jim Crowe's Visit: SAA got a major opportunity to conduct a public awareness program when Dr. Jim Crowe, President of World Fellowship Of Schizophrenia and Allied Disorders (WFSAD), visited Pune for four days between 2nd and 5th November 2003. Besides meeting members of the self-help group, caregivers and the SAA executives, Dr. Crowe also interacted with many other groups, including more than 40 members of the Pune Psychiatrists' Association, half a dozen NGOs active in mental health care in Pune and media representatives in and around Pune. All India Radio (AIR) interviewed him. The interview was relayed on all AIR stations in Maharashtra circle. He addressed a public meeting to share his impressions on mental health care activities in Pune and the role of WFSAD in the international context. The most touching part of his program schedule was his personal visits to the homes of six afflicted families. The patience and concern Jim has for the families were evident when he listened to them with empathy and concentration. The families were touched by his care and concern for them though it was his first interaction with them.




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Nishreen Poonawala (social worker), Jim Crow, Saroj Acharya (member of self-help group) and Anil Vartak (SAA Secretary)

Another foreign visitor was Dr. Chris Rybak, Professor from Bradley University in U.S.A., visited SAA and gave a talk on 10th January 2004. The topic of his talk was "Wheel of Resilience" which discussed and encouraged holistic well-being of the families afflicted with schizophrenia.

Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS): The 35th annual conference of IPS (West Zone) was held in Pune from 15th till 17th October 2004. It is heartening to note that the organizing committee of the conference recognized the significant contribution of MSSO and SAA in the field of awareness and rehabilitation associated with mental health care and invited Dr. Jagannath Wani, President of MSSO, to be the chief guest and to inaugurate the annual conference. This provided a very valuable opportunity to establish a dialogue with more than 200 psychiatrists who are members of IPS (West Zone).
Public Recognition: The Kesari-Mahratta Trust, founded by the late Lokmanya Tilak, recently recognized the SAA activities in a public function on 14th October by awarding their annual prize to Schizophrenia Awareness Association and the K.S. Wani Memorial Trust for carrying out the best awareness program of the year. The prize is given in memory of Dr. R.V. Wardekar, one of their former trustees.

New MSSO Projects

Rehabilitation of Rural Physically Challenged

Physically challenged
do normal work


($50,000): Helpers of the Handicapped, Kolhapur, assist the physically and mentally challenged in their rehabilitation. In cooperation with the Vedanta Society of Calgary, MSSO is assisting them in creating awareness in the rural community about the causes and prevention of disability -



using an Physically challenged do normal work awareness video, which will help not only in raising awareness but also in assisting them in their fundraising for project activities. The project will also provide vocational training in agriculture and food and fruit processing since most of the rural population is dependent upon agriculture.

Advanced Education for Hemalkasa Tribals ($39,350): The Lok Biradari Prakalp (LBP) run by Drs. Prakash and Manda Amte has been providing education up to 10th grade to tribal students since the early seventies. MSSO, in cooperation with Maanaw Seva Association, is assisting LBP to expand the school by constructing additional classrooms to start grades 11 and 12, which will provide education up to the level of junior college.

MSSO Projects in Progress

The following projects initiated during 2003 are in progress:
(1) Health and Education of Hemalkasa Tribals: MSSO is assisting LBP to replace termite-affected roofs of old buildings for school, hospital and living quarters. More than 300 tribal patients receive medical help on a daily basis at LBP and more than 550 students are enrolled in the school.
(2) Health and Hygiene of Slum Dwellers: In cooperation with Maanaw Seva Association, MSSO assisted Sarvajanik Hospital, Dhule, to purchase laproscopic surgical instruments for tubectomy and other surgeries of patients in slums. Laproscopic surgeries will limit the patient's hospital stay to a single day and prevent unnecessary loss of daily wages..
(3) Meals for Tribal Patients: This is another project to help the tribals coming to LBP hospital for medical treatment. It is providing assistance for the meal service for these patients.
(4) Rehabilitating Destitute Children: MSSO in cooperation with Volunteers in Service to Education in India (Canada) is assisting Sandipani Gurukul for development of destitute students near Ratnagiri in rural Maharashtra.

Recently Completed MSSO Projects

The following projects have now been completed:
Personality Development of Rural Students - Vidhyarthi Sahayyak Samiti, Pune,
Development of Slum Students and Mothers- SwaRoop Wardhinee, Pune,
Vocational Training in Nursing Assistance for Destitute Women - Adharashram, Nashik

MSSO President with Nursing Assistance Trainees
at Adharashram




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Soundproof Room for Hearing Test- A rural school for hearing-impaired in Pimpalgaon-Hareshwar, in Jalgaon district of Maharashtra, was in need of a soundproof room. MSSO assisted the school to construct ne.
The first two of the above projects were co-sponsored by the Vedanta Society, the third one by Maanaw Seva Association.
Impact of Amtes' Visit: The MSSO president received the following email from Mrs. Geeta Padhye who attended the meeting of Drs. Prakash and Manda Amte on 1st August 2003 in Toronto. It is an example of the kind of impact that is created by the work of the Amte couple.


A few years back I read the book "Negal" by Vilas Manohar. I was very fascinated by the fact that Drs. Prakash and Manda Amte have power to heal and deal with these wild beasts and most of all to gain their love, trust and confidence. I thought that it would be really interesting to read more about this, and even better, if I ever get a chance to listen to them in person.
Unexpectedly, in the summer of 2003, Marathi Bhashik Mandal of Toronto had arranged an evening get together with Drs. Prakash and Manda Amte. It was a dream-come-true for me! I was extremely excited to see these Living Gods.
During the get together I got introduced to their real work at Hemalkasa. That introduction was even more amazing than the book "Negal." My husband Nitin and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening. We came home with a bigger heart and mind. That was a very different learning experience of understanding LIFE. We both found ourselves very insignificant in front of what we had just seen. We wanted to be able to at least make some people aware of this culture and do something little for this cause as our share. I bought the VCD: Divine Messengers to share with my friends.
In our town I am a member of a small group (15 members) for women known as Multicultural Women's Group. Every month each of us donates a dollar and at the end of the year we send this amount to a charity. This year we will like to send this donation to Hemalkasa.
I will also like to know about a way to send you some small donations once in a while from some of us. I will appreciate your guidance in this matter.
Thanking you and congratulating all of you for your wonderful contribution,




Geeta Padhye




Donations to MSSO are eligible for tax credit
(charity registration No. 10765 4410 RR 0001).
You may send your donations and/or requests
for MSSO videos to:


Maharashtra Seva Samiti Organization
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Calgary, Alberta
Canada T3H 1P7
Phone (403) 288-0048 Fax (403) 547-5471




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Vishwasetu 2003

Vishwasetu Association, whose motto is "Bridging Miles and Minds", had organized Vishwasetu 2003, the second NRI Festival, in Pune on 27th and 28th December 2003. MSSO had sponsored the festival. It started with a visit to the IT Park in Hinjewadi. As per the delegate response, the visit was a very informative and interesting component of the NRI festival.


Medha Patkar was the Chief Guest of the festival. She touched the hearts of the audience when she explained the issues of the tribals displaced due to the construction of Sardar Sarowar dam on Narmada

river. Video presentation of the work of Drs. Prakash and Manda Amte, together with their interview, was equally moving experience for the delegates.
The festival theme was "Youth participation in bridging miles and minds". Consistent with the theme, representatives of ASHA for Education and AID-India made power point presentations of their work. The audience was pleasantly surprised to know the width and the depth of their efforts to help the less privileged in India. The souvenir, Vishwasetu - Youth Special, contains articles detailing their work. Listening to the amazing achievement of the eighteen years old Ankit Fadia was a special treat for the delegates. His contributions in the field of website hacking and network security is unbelievable given his age. The audience was astounded to know about his best selling successful books and consulting services he provides to international defense personnel including CIA and FBI.


Deepak Shikarpur introducing Ankit Fadia


The festival provided the first exposure to the Pune audience to listen and to see the orchestra of 75 physically challenged less privileged persons from Baba Amte's Anandwan.