Our team

How far we travel in life matters far less than those we meet along the way.

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Snehadhara-Team3
gitanjali

Gitanjali Sarangan
Executive Director & Founder

Gitanjali , founder of Snehadhara Foundation is an educationist, a social entrepreneur, an ABT (Arts Based Therapy ) Practitioner, an ABT Guide and Educator. Snehadhara Foundation is the first centre in the country that uses Arts Based Therapy as the only methodology to work with children and adults with special needs.

Gitanjali is a recipient of the Millennium Alliance Grant for the project ‘Kala Samavesh -Inclusion and Education of Disabilities. She has been awarded as one among the 50 Most Impactful Social Innovators (Global Listing) by the World CSR Congress and Awards. Gitanjali is also the recipient of the ‘Dr. Amarnath Annual Award for Inclusion’, 2016. She is one among two artists to be awarded the Artist’s Grant 2014 for the ‘Art in Education Program’ by the India Foundation for the Arts and the Artist’s Grant 2014 by India Foundation for the Arts. She has been recognised by Global Ethics Forum and Indian Institute of Management, for working towards establishing an impartial and fair world. She has also spoken at the TEDx BITS Hyderabad on ‘The Goodness of Life’.

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Over the past few years, she has been conducting seminars and workshops at with various groups and organisations on taking learning methodologies to varied populations using Arts Based forms. She has designed and facilitates a certificate course along with Headstreams at Christ University, IIPR (Indian Institute of Psychology and Research), St.Joseph’s College and Mount’s College titled ‘Psycho-Socio well being using Arts and Play’. In association with Mirra Foundation she has designed and conceptualised Hridakasha – ‘Enabling peer – peer interaction to create inclusive empathetic learning spaces for children with disabilities using the Arts’ . Gitanjali is on the panel of experts of the ‘Arivu Disha’ A two-Pronged Program to Improve Learning Outcomes and Career Prospects of  government school children in Karnataka.

Gitanjali was a speaker at the Mentor Conclave, 2015 for school leaders, educators, academicians and researchers & professionals to bridge the knowledge gap, promote research esteem and the evolution of pedagogy. Her paper ‘Arts Based Therapy for enabling peer to peer social interaction between neurotypical children and those with special needs’ – National Conference on Models of Best Practices in Empowerment of Persons with disabilities at Kottayam, Kerala ; Oct 2015 enthused the interest of professionals working with special populations to look at holistic learning methodologies.

Gitanjali has a Master’s Degree, a University Rank holder in Biochemistry, and has been a Lady Tata Memorial Scholarship Awardee.  She also had a PG diploma in Applied Buddhist Psychology and Ethics from Pune University. She has been a recipient of the Uma Kela Prize for the Biochemistry at the Masters Level and presented papers at symposiums at CRI, Mumbai, Institute of Science.  She has completed her DELF-2 from Alliance Francaise and taught French at Jyoti Nivas College Bangalore. Gitanjali is trained in Carnatic as well as Hindustani Classical music and is a  Bharatnatyam dancer .


Shailaja
Associate Director – Content & Programmes

A Commerce graduate, Shailaja moved from accounting packages to education a decade ago. In this time she has explored the world of education through teaching at three mainstream schools in Chandigarh, Gurgaon and Bangalore, that tried to look at education progressively and bring in meaning that could be possible within the constraints of the system. Shailaja has also looked more significantly at education through her work in Chandigarh, with CEVA an NGO, an educational resource centre that advocated alternative methods for teacher training in schools and engaging with lesser privileged spaces in the city along with an engagement at COVEDA, an alternative learning centre based on Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy. Added to this is her association with Centre for Learning, Bangalore, as a parent, a space that gave a lot of meaning to how ‘I look at life itself especially relationships.’

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‘How children learn’ has been a quest from the beginning along with understanding how emotions govern learning. To move from ‘teaching from the head to the heart’, brought Shailaja to Snehadhara. She feels that working with children is the best way to learn about oneself, to look deeper into and question belief systems and patterns, to gain a larger perspective about life.

In the last two years apart from her sessions with the children in the Direct Care space, Shailaja has helped create curriculum at the centre. She has worked with the facilitators to create content for the Hulimavu Government School project under Snehadhara’s engagement with the Riddhi Foundation. She has co- facilitated and independently facilitated sessions on the 7i program at HLC Chennai with Grades 6 to 9 and the teachers, a program that looks at inclusion in depth. Snehadhara has worked with Headstreams to create the Certificate Course in PSYCHO-SOCIAL WELL-BEING USING MULTI-ARTS AND PLAY , which has been carried through in four colleges in Bangalore. Shailaja has facilitated some of these sessions as well. She has worked with the teachers of Kamala Niketan at Trichy on ‘ How Play – Directive and Non Directive could be used to achieve academic and curricular goals in classrooms’.

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Dolly Narayan
Content and Documentation, ABT Practitioner

A B.Com graduate from the Calcutta University and a B. Ed in Special Education from the SNDT University in Mumbai, Dolly has worked with various institutions across the country in the disability sector: Manovikas Kendra Kolkata; AHEAD; Kolkata; Spastics Society of Karnataka; Smadhan, New Delhi and Jan Madhyam New Delhi. After working in the field for many years, she worked in the development and corporate sector for about fifteen years. In the development sector she was involved with NGOs (Foundation for the Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT), Bangalore) and international funding organisations like ActionAid, Oxfam and Danida, where she worked with them on communication, development of educational material, and photography. In the corporate sector, she worked in communication and program management for a leading international technology company on their IT in education program.

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Wanting to reconnect with special needs children, work that has always been closest to her heart, she completed the Arts Based Therapist (ABT) Course from the World Centre for Creative Learning (WCCL) Pune in 2015. She is currently working with Snehadhara Foundation as a Consultant.

An avid reader, traveller, movie buff, yoga practitioner, foodie and photographer, Dolly also enjoys dabbling in art and sculpture and draws from her experiences to enrich her work with special needs children.


Pooja Iyer
CIO – Chief Inclusion Officer
Pooja Iyer likes to describe herself as a “Dreamer, Thinker, Doer.” She believes in the saying that the world needs dreamers and the world needs doers, but above all, the world needs dreamers who dare to dream and achieve. To take a dream like what Snehadhara has envisioned and have a hand in making that a reality, is what drives her.

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She is a Communications Consultant with a Bachelors degree in Visual Communication and an MBA in International Business. She brings with her many years of experience in the Corporate Sector, and wants to channelize that expertise into taking the message of Snehadhara out to a larger audience. She specializes in building bridges between people and organizations, creative writing, soft skills training, key account management, fund raising and marketing.

A multi-faceted professional with experience living, studying and working in international environments like Europe, Africa and the US, Pooja loves learning about new cultures, her two little munchkins and dancing in the rain. She believes every day is an adventure because “Some journeys take us far from home, but some journeys lead us to our destiny.”

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Vinayaga Raman
Chief Technology Officer

Vinayaga Raman is a techie at heart and has worked in the Software Industry for over two decades. He completed his MSc in Computer Science from ICSEI Indore and his hobbies include Gadgets, Movies and Music. He sees himself getting into the teaching field at some point in his life.

Vinayaga sees Social Responsibilities as a way of giving back a little of what has been provided to us by life in abundance. A lot of good work is being done in the social space, but lack of technology awareness means that most of this work happens in deep silos with little or no sharing. As a CTO for Snehadhara, he wants to use technology as a bridge so that the staff can focus on doing what they do best and not worry about the digitization and sharing of information.


Prerna Kapur
Senior Programme Facilitator – Uhuru

Prerna’s interest in the Arts and Psychoanalysis has led her in many directions. She has completed her MSc in Psychoanalytic Developmental Psychology from University College London and The Anna Freud Centre (London), and B.A. (Hons.) in Psychology from Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi. She has done a level one training in Play Therapy from National Association of Play Therapy India.

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From 2009 – 12, Prerna has worked in producing and directing original live musicals in Delhi under the banner of ‘The Yellow Brick Project’. During graduation she trained as a peer facilitator with Project 19: Understanding HIV/AIDS, Young People’s Sexuality, Health and Rights and conducted workshops on the same in colleges and schools across Delhi.She went on to work with Teamwork Arts as Executive Producer for Music and Assistant Producer for various national and international arts festivals.

More recently, Prerna worked as a Mental Health Counselor in The Shri Ram School, Gurgaon. She volunteered as a counselor at Udaan street children’s home in Dwarka, under Salaam Baalak Trust Delhi. Over the summer, she did short-term group counseling work with children and staff at the Sikkim Himalayan Academy.

Prerna loves reading, playing with children, sending long emails and any kind of vaguely artistic show! At Snehadhara her focus is to give PLAY a more meaningful direction, to help achieve children’s goals in directive and non directive play settings.  Prerna says, through Snehadhara, she gets to explore and stretch the limits of what it means to be child-centric in her line of work.

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Rohit Ranjan 
Programme Coordinator – Direct Care

Rohit holds a LLM degree in Access to Justice from Tata Institute of Social Science, Mumbai and graduate in law from National University of Study and Research in Law, Ranchi. He has worked on housing rights, rights of slum dwellers and right to shelter with Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action during his fieldwork while pursuing LLM.

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He has interned with Khaitan and Co. Kolkata, Fox Mandal and Co. Corporate Office, Noida, PKA Advocates, New Delhi and Shri. P.P. Rao, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India.

Rohit possesses good administrative and organizational skill and has a knack for reading literature. His interest lies in doing altruistic works and wants to make this society more adaptable to new ideas. He has keen interest in comparative religion, human rights and access to justice. At Snehadhara he essays the role of Programme Coordinator – Research and Education. Along with organizing and evaluating learning curriculum across all our programs, he will be working with relationships with external organisations, institutions and governmental bodies to drive Snehadhara Foundation’s vision of inclusion.


Bunty Shrestha
Senior Programme Facilitator – Uhuru
Programme Coordinator – Pipilika

Bunty holds a Master’s in Psychology and a Post-Graduate Diploma is Counselling from Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu. She  has worked as a lecturer for two years- teaching general psychology to undergraduate students in Nepal. She is pursuing her creative art therapy course from SMART, Bangalore. She has also worked with children at Winds ‘O’ Change using movement and visual arts.

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After coming to Bangalore, she has discovered a lot about herself. To name a few – she enjoys dancing, she loves to create art with pastel, and she found joy in gardening. Coming to Snehadhara has helped her to know more about herself – most importantly, of being aware that she loves children –  playing with them, taking care of them, singing and dancing with them, and telling them stories.

She wishes that someday the children in Snehadhara would understand how much joy they have given to her. Her role at the organisation as been of a facilitator with the ASD group.

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Arun Kumar
Programme Facilitator – Uhuru
Head – Admin & Operations

Arun comes in from a non-teaching background with a passion to be with children. One learns best when one teaches, is the mantra that brings Arun to this space. He loves singing and dancing, and this is the strength he taps in giving the children uninhibited spaces of being.  He has certified himself with a course on Management of children with Mental Retardation and Autism from IRC Bangalore.

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While he comes from some theatre experience, this year he has shared that space with some Snehadhara children and been instrumental in a stage performance too. Arun is a foodie who loves eating and enjoys cooking. He is currently learning Bharatnatyam and working very hard at enhancing his English Language skills.

In the 4 years that he has been here, openness to learning is the inspiration Arun brings to Snehadhara. A dreamer of sorts, he is the sentimental quotient of the place. ‘Snehadhara has completely changed the way I look at myself and the world’, is his tribute to the centre.


Rahul Varghese
Admin In-Charge

Rahul’s career took off with Snehadhara being his first launch pad. Determined, hardworking and very new to the world of children, Rahul has been exploring this space  since January 2015, initially observing the process and then expressing a wish to engage deeper with the children. He is learning to understand the world they inhabit and to balance  that with the way he perceives the world.

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With a background in Business and Accounting, Rahul brings his arithmetic and logistical skills to the vibrant setting of Snehadhara and in return, takes back with him new experiences every day.

Having grown up in Dubai and studied in London and India, he likes to stay connected with different parts of the world and is a current affairs whizz. When he’s not busy reading the paper, he likes to watch films and take long walks.

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Priya

Krishnapriya K
Senior Facilitator – Oota Thota

Priya, as she is more popularly known, hails from the quaint town of Palakkad in Kerala. After graduating from Avinashilingam University, Coimbatore with a Masters in Nutrition she interned at the Dietary Department of CMC Vellore. Later she worked with Apollo and Fortis hospitals before deciding to take a break to raise her family.

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Priya loves reading books, cooking, gardening and watching movies, not particularly in that order. She notices she is happiest around kids, and that is what drove her to work with Snehadhara Foundation. She feels working with the kids and the SF team has been one of her greatest learning experiences. And she hopes to continue to touch the lives of children with special needs just like they have touched hers.


Rohini Chidambaran
Senior Programme Facilitator – Uhuru
Programme Facilitator – impART

“There is no right time or right age to do anything in life. The day you decide to do something is the right time and the right age. So live every moment of your life and follow your heart”. Rohini Chidambaran, who holds a LLB degree from Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar College of Law, Nagpur and an LLM from Santa Clara School of Law, CA, USA, strongly believes in these thoughts.

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Right from her college days she has actively participated in Legal Aid camps for women and children. In the US, she joined an organization called Bay Area Legal Aid in Oakland, CA, where she handled various issues of homeless people under the guidance of her senior attorneys. She also attended training programs on Mediation, Domestic violence and Hearing examiner and worked on actual cases.

After working in the corporate sector in Bangalore, she took a break and followed her childhood passion in dance by doing BA in Bharatnatyam from Keshava College of Music and Dance. She also learnt Bollywood and free style dance for a year. Rohini is a trained Carnatic singer and teaches music to kids. She is also a runner and a cyclist and believes in being healthy and fit.

Joining Snehadhara has opened up a whole new world to her, a world where she believes that with her love, compassion and experience in dance and music, she can help these kids discover themselves and express their emotions and help them in nurturing their singing and dancing skills. Working with kids in Snehadhara has helped her discover the right way in which she can use her passion in making a difference in their lives.

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Kavita Verma
Senior Programme Facilitator – Uhuru

Kavita hails from Delhi,  completed her graduation from Delhi University and moved to Bangalore after her marriage. She did her Diploma in Autism from KPMRC, Bangalore and has been a special educator for the last seven years in a number of places in Bangalore viz. Sunshine school, Apoorva, Asha Integrated school, Daiva Foundation, Anveshdhi Learning Centre and lately Turning Point.

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Her area of interest is in ADL , Activities of Daily Living while working with children, and she brings her unique touch to the entire experience of being with them at Snehadhara. Her openness to learning and creating possibilities for herself and children is a strength that she bring to the direct care space at Snehadhara.

A fun loving person, Kavita enjoys playing practical jokes on people and mimicry is her forte. She has a love of fashion and everything Bollywood, a bit of the drama that makes her the vibrant person she is. She shares a love of cooking with her husband and when she is not cooking up pranks she indulges in whipping up some simple home cooked food.


Shatarupa
Facilitator – Uhuru

Shatarupa’s core interest lies in Psychology, Philosophy and the Creative Arts. A three-way marriage, that brought her to Arts Based Therapy, for which she received her certification from UNESCO-CID. She graduated from Miranda House, DU and did her postgraduation at Ambedkar University, Delhi. She has worked with children, as soon as she stopped being one, in various institutions, such as Teach For India, Fortis and Make a Difference, as a teacher as well as a counsellor.

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In Snehadhara she finds a space for unbridled creativity and learning, where her primary purpose is to identify every child’s strength and build on it systematically. As a facilitator and a general member of the society, she wants to deconstruct normalcy and bring in further inclusion for everyone.

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Rittika Mallick
Facilitator

Rittika Mallick is from Kolkata and has done her Bachelors in Psychology from MS Ramaiya, and M Sc Psychology from Montfort college. She has interned at National Institute of Behavioral Science, Kolkata and Muktangan Rehabilitation Centre, Pune. Rittika is a certified scuba diver, dancer and keyboard player. She enjoys exercising her mind and her love for art is evident- “Art is for all that’s why I chose art therapy as my way of communicating with people, helping people to communicate with it.”


Shashikala
Co-Facilitator

Shashikala hails from Sullia, South Canara and moved to Bangalore post her marriage. She has always wanted to work with children, and is very happy that she has the opportunity to work with special needs children. “These children need a lot of support and not everyone has the heart to work with this population. I’ve gotten so involved with the children, that nowadays when I sleep I end up dreaming of their antics in class. It has been just 2 months since I came on board, but even that has flown past in a jiffy. I guess what they say is true, time flies when you’re having fun. And it is such a pleasure working with the team. I don’t feel like I’m going to a stuffy office everyday, but like I’m going to meet my friends who make us feel like part of a family.”

Shashikala

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Rukmini
Co-Facilitator

Rukmini has many years of experience working with special populations. Being married to a speech and hearing impaired person herself, she has a gentleness and sensitivity to her, that is evident to all who come in contact with her. She and her husband worked with an organization called ‘Heart & Soul’ for almost a decade teaching sign language to hearing impaired children from the slums. She took a break after that for a few years to focus on her own children and came into Snehadhara fold about 6 months ago. She has an artistic bent and loves teaching crafts to the children. “Snehadhara’s approach to working with the children appeals to me as it is very different from other places that I have worked in.”


Muniyappa
Co-Facilitator

Muniyappa, or Muniya as he is fondly called, is our in-house Prabhudeva. His awesome dance moves are matched only by his warm, affable personality. A resident of Bangalore, he joined Snehadhara early 2017. His hobbies are dancing and gymnastics. He loves large, family get togethers and Snehadhara to him feels just like family. Which is probably the reason why, after drifting through a number of different part-time jobs, he finally feels like he has come home.

When he first came to Snehadhara he was apprehensive because everyone spoke in English, and he thought not knowing the language would be a limitation for him. But the reception he received was so warm and encouraging that he felt he could do this, and he looks forward to each and every day at the centre.

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Ananya
Co-Facilitator

Ananya is the youngest co facilitator at Snehadhara. Born in Chennai she has been brought up in Bangalore where she gave her 10th exam with her favourite subjects being English and History.

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She has been at Snehadhara for the last 3 years, first as a student and now a co facilitator. She gives ‘ buddying ’its true meaning by befriending the children under her care and interacting with them on a one to one basis without any power equation. ‘Initially I was uncomfortable with the children but now I feel that I want to be instrumental in their happiness as they trust me and I feel responsible because of that.’

‘I like Snehadhara as the adults treat me with respect as an equal and do not pick faults with my work, they are constantly helping me get better at what I do.’ Ananya gives back the respect that she gets and is very easy and comfortable to work with. She takes suggestions well and takes her responsibilities very seriously.

She loves shopping, TV, dancing, Bollywood songs, reading magazines and travelling with her family. She has this desire to learn more about the world to enrich her knowledge and social interactions.


Lekha Ramakrishna
Co-Facilitator

A fresh B.Com graduate, Lekha hails from Chittor, Andhra Pradesh. Her mother used to work with special needs children and she remembers spending her Sundays with them, helping her mother out.  She loves travelling and her favourite place is by the beach, watching the waves lap the shore. Her father, she says, is her hero. Despite being hearing and speech impaired, he is one of the most positive, helpful people she has ever met. She is filled with a sense of pride every time someone mentions that she looks like her father. “Being in Snehadhara is teaching me patience as I am not a very patient person. I want to learn everything about the children I work with.”

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