The quote, “They alone live who live for others,” by Swami Vivekananda, aptly applies to Dr. Manisha Bhandankar, who is quietly transforming the lives of orphans, abandoned, and surrendered children through the Swami Vivekanand Seva Pratishthan (SVSP) in Belagavi.
Dr. Bhandankar is a true champion of change, working tirelessly to improve the lives of children who lack parents or guardians. She has assembled a dedicated team to care for these children during their formative years. Dr. Manisha’s compassion, dedication, selflessness, and commitment to improving the lives of these children deserve recognition, support, and appreciation.
Dr. Manisha and her devoted team at SVSP are actively involved in providing quality education, essential medical care, nutritious food, clothing, and psycho-social support to the children under their care. To truly understand the impact of their work, one must witness it firsthand. Dr. Manisha confidently states that their efforts have instilled confidence and enhanced the children’s skills, ensuring they become thriving adults who will positively influence the world in the future.
'National Doctors Day,' which commemorates the birthday of Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy (July 1, 1882 - July 1, 1962). Dr. Roy was a highly esteemed doctor, educator, freedom fighter, social worker, and politician. He served as the Chief Minister of West Bengal for 14 years (1948-1962) and was awarded the highest civilian honor, the "Bharat Ratna." Throughout his life, he dedicated himself to the well-being of others, treating thousands of patients and inspiring millions. Notably, he also served as the personal physician of Mahatma Gandhi.
During an interview, Dr. Manisha candidly discussed various issues related to orphans and how society can extend a helping hand to these disadvantaged children, reintegrating
Dr. Manisha Bhandankar is a highly esteemed professional in the field of pediatrics, specializing in the treatment of newborns. She holds an MD in Pediatrics and serves as a Professor of Pediatrics at the renowned J N Medical College. Additionally, she is a Senior Neonatologist at KLES Dr. Prabhakar Kore Hospital Belagavi. Dr. Bhandankar completed her MBBS and MD degrees at the esteemed Government Medical College Goa. She has also been awarded a PhD from KAHER, MRCP from the Royal College of London, and is a certified coach for Bio-ethics in the USA. Since 2013, she has held the position of President of ‘SVSP’. Furthermore, she is a national resource person for Neonatal Advanced Life Support (NALS) and Navjaat Shishu Suraksha Karyakram (NSSK).
Could you provide some information about your center?
Dr. Manisha: Our center, ‘SVSP’, was established in 1982 and is located in Subhashnagar, behind the SP Office in Belagavi. It is one of the largest orphanages in the area, currently providing care for 65 children. Our dedicated team is committed to serving orphans, abandoned, and surrendered children. We have separate accommodations for girls and boys, ensuring their comfort and safety. All essential facilities, including accommodation, education, medical care, food, clothing, books, stationery, and other services, are provided completely free of charge. Our team consists of approximately 25 devoted staff members, including administrators, medical officers, social workers, counselors, teachers, nutritionists, nurses, cooks, security personnel, and ayas. They work tirelessly around the clock to ensure the well-being and care of these children.
What is the current adoption situation in the country?
Dr. Manisha: In India, there are over 30,000 potential parents who have registered and are eagerly waiting to adopt children. However, the number of legal adoptions that actually take place in the country is only around 3,000. Even in Belagavi district, there are more than 100 parents who are anxiously waiting to adopt children.
How many children have been adopted from your center?
Dr. Manisha: Our adoption center, which is one of the largest in the country apart from Bengaluru, has successfully facilitated the legal adoption of 130 children since its establishment. The adoption process is a lengthy one, involving thorough scrutiny by the government-monitored Child Welfare Committee (CWC), along with the completion of necessary legal documentation, family screening, and counseling of prospective parents. Only after receiving approval from the CWC committee can a child be adopted.
What about international adoptions?
Dr. Manisha: International adoptions are highly regulated and demanding procedures that are overseen by the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA). Our center has facilitated 13 international adoptions so far. While Indian prospective parents usually prefer healthy babies, international prospective parents have shown a willingness to adopt children with special needs, such as those with developmental delays, partial blindness, speech deficiencies, or learning disabilities.
What advice do you have for the community?
Dr. Manisha: I highly recommend legal adoption as the most fulfilling option for childless couples. The joy and love shared by those who have adopted is immeasurable, and it has brought immense happiness to their families. The presence of a child has truly transformed their lives.
How are children’s activities planned?
Dr. Manisha: Our organization is dedicated to serving every child with compassion, care, and love. Our staff upholds these values and ensures that each child receives the attention they deserve. We begin each day with a prayer session, fostering a sense of unity and spirituality. Afterward, the children are provided with a nutritious breakfast to start their day. We prioritize their education by enrolling them in private schools, ensuring they receive a quality education on par with their peers.
Our activities are thoughtfully designed to promote the social, emotional, and cognitive development of each child. In the evenings, they engage in both indoor and outdoor games, yoga, and plays. We also offer a variety of activities such as rangoli, drawing, library visits, quizzes, and singing on a rotational basis. These activities are not only enjoyable but also serve as a means for the children to willingly participate and grow.
To further support their well-being, we provide them with nutritious meals throughout the day. Our initiatives are carefully crafted to ensure that every child feels valued and finds joy in each activity they partake in.
How do you manage expenses?
Dr. Manisha: A portion of our funding is provided by the government, but unfortunately, it is not enough to cover our extensive expenses. However, we are fortunate to have the support of philanthropists who generously donate to our cause. Approximately 50-60% of our expenses are met through these donations from various philanthropists. What is truly remarkable is that these donors prefer to remain anonymous, showing their humility and selflessness. Let me share a couple of heartwarming examples: Every year, a businessman visits our center 15 days before Deepavali with a tailor to measure all the children. Then, on the day before Deepavali, he arrives with his family to distribute sweets and new clothes, creating a joyous celebration for the children. Another hotelier has been supplying us with 10 liters of milk every day for over a decade. We also receive cash, groceries, books, clothing, and stationery from kind-hearted individuals, all of which are strictly used for the welfare of our residents. Additionally, some corporations have stepped forward as part of their corporate social responsibility initiatives, donating solar water facilities and buses for the benefit of the children. We are truly grateful for all the donations we receive. However, we do not accept cooked or leftover food, as it could be detrimental to the children’s health. On behalf of the management, I express our heartfelt gratitude to all the donors for their benevolent acts.
What do you expect from society?
Dr. Manisha: Orphans face numerous challenges, including feelings of loss, instability, and potential social and emotional issues. We are dedicated to providing the best attention, care, and intervention to help these children overcome their difficulties and develop into healthy, well-adjusted individuals. To achieve this, we need the support of good teachers, counselors, and social workers who can volunteer their time to teach, engage in conversations, offer encouragement, share success stories, and motivate the children.
What are your future plans?
Dr. Manisha: We are excited to announce the upcoming launch of “Prarambha,” an initiative aimed at providing professional attention to children with special needs. This includes speech pathology, mental retardation, delayed milestones, learning disabilities, and the need for physiotherapy, among others. We have created a specially designed space for parents and children to overcome their difficulties. We are grateful to KLE Physiotherapy College for offering specialized services to these deserving children. Through our collaboration with District Health Officials and the Child Welfare department, we have identified over 100 children with various disabilities, and we are fully prepared to provide them with on-campus treatment. The infrastructure created by “Prarambha” will soon be available to serve these children in need.
Dr. Manisha is a dedicated Neonatologist who handles the most complex cases of newborn babies with utmost care and dedication. She is also a postgraduate teacher at J N Medical College. Despite her busy schedule, she devotes a significant amount of her time to children. Her passion for serving the most vulnerable is truly admirable, and she stands out among her medical peers. Driven by her strong motivation, she puts all her efforts into shaping the future of these children. Her presence is like a beacon of light and she serves as a role model, bringing hope, joy, and confidence to all those under her care. We wish her the best on Doctors Day and wholeheartedly support her in her mission to transform the lives of these vibrant children.
If you would like to contribute to this noble cause, you can make a donation to Swami Vivekanand Seva Pratishthan at Union Bank Of India, Branch – Market Yard, Belagavi. Account number: 370301010041675, IFSC Code: UBIN0537039. For further information, please contact 0831-2473919 (M) 9606869122 / 6360719554