Our Team

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

Amee

Gitanjali Sarangan

Gitanjali Sarangan

Executive Director & Founder

Gitanjali is the founder of Snehadhara Foundation, an educationist, a social entrepreneur, an Arts Based Therapy Practitioner and an Arts Practices for Inclusion (API) Educator with over two decade’s experience in teaching a diverse population of children and adults. Snehadhara’s inception in 2012 was aimed at looking at innovatively using Arts Based Therapy (ABT) for learning. The motivation was to explore a significant train of thought from an action project to a long-term sustainable practice. The pioneering attempt was to look at interventions with an integrated, holistic approach to address the various learning, therapeutic and social inclusion needs of children/adults across special needs groups. This has got her to pioneer the first ever Arts Practices for Inclusion programme in India.

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For close to two decades Gitanjali been pioneering effective ways to bridge developmental deficits in education, and weave inclusion into the mainstream world. She has always been clear about wanting to spend time with children with special needs, learn of a world that does not discriminate, a people who love you for who you are and not what you do; who are not quick to judge, but rather quick to embrace. The central thrust of her work over a decade has been with children and adults with ASD.

Gitanjali was invited as a key speaker at the Conferencia Internacional – Por una Educacion que despliega las habilidades del Ser in Buenos Aires, 2019. Gitanjali is a recipient of the Millennium Alliance Grant 2017 as a social innovator of one of the top five Innovations in the country for Education for the project ‘Kala Samavesh -Inclusion and Education of Disabilities. She has been conferred the Super Achievers Award, 2017, by the Association of People with Disability (APD) in memory of its founder N.S Hema, to recognize her outstanding contribution in the field of Disability in and outside Karnataka. Gitanjali has been an ACTIVATEE speaker at the 45th International Association for Experiential Education (AEE) Conference in Montreal in November 2017.

Gitanjali has presented at the prestigious TEDx platform at BITS Hyderabad on ‘The Goodness of Life’. Gitanjali is the recipient of the NGO Leadership Awards 2017 as recognition of leaders who have contributed value & made a change as a strategic tool for sustainable growth. 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. Her ABT research project ‘Holistic Learning and Inclusion for children with developmental delays in motor, language and cognition’ was presented at the National Conference on Models of Best Practices in Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Kerala 2015. She 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. 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. Gitanjali is on the panel of experts of the ‘Arivu Disha’ a two-Pronged Program by Headstreams to Improve Learning Outcomes and Career Prospects of government school children in Karnataka. She has mentored and trained educators, special educators, therapists, teachers, educational assistants across organizations in India.

Gitanjali holds a Masters in Biochemistry along with a Post Graduate Diploma in Community Based Rehabilitation.Gitanjali has a certificate in Psychological First Aid from Johns Hopkins University on Coursera. She also has a certificate in Social Psychology from Wesleyan University on Coursera. Born and educated in Mumbai, she has been a Lady Tata Memorial Scholarship Awardee and a University rank holder in Biochemistry. She has studied Applied Buddhist Psychology and Ethics from Pune University. Gitanjali is a trained Bharatanatyam dancer, and has trained in Hindustani and Carnatic Vocals. She has trained under Arthur Hull in Drum Circle Facilitation.

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Shailaja

Shailaja

Associate Director – Content & Programmes

As Associate Director, Content and Programmes, Shailaja has in the last three years, looked at curriculum planning and design implementation at the Direct care space at Snehadhara as well as in a few projects across the country. 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 children from Grades 6 to 9 and the teachers, a program that looks at inclusion in depth. This program moved from direct facilitation with the children to empowering the teachers to take on the onus of the 7i program towards relationship building and meaningful learning. It involved training the teachers for facilitation and curriculum design for the sessions with the children as well as conducting sessions for teachers themselves on self experience.  She is currently working with Smart Wonders School, Mohali on a year long programme on Creative Interventions in Reimagining Classrooms through Dialogue Circles that looks at deeper connect and communication between educators and children.

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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’. She has also co-facilitated sessions for teachers and students on “Creative Interventions in Co-creating Empathetic Inclusive Learner led Classrooms” in Matrikiran School, Gurgaon.

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. Besides academic content, there has been a special emphasis on Quality Circle Time and Life Skills program in her school interventions both with students as well as teachers from Grades 1 to 10.

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.’

‘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.

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Charumathi Supraja

Charumathi Supraja

Programmes Co-ordinator - Direct Care and impART

Charumathi Supraja was born in Bangalore in 1975, when the city was still associated with gardens and pensioners. Though Journalism was one of three major subjects in her BA course, it was writing fiction and poetry that she dreamt of, while searching for the sky beyond a Mango tree she studied through school and college. By the time the tree was chopped, the house demolished and the city tagged with traffic and IT – she had married, made the start of a career in Journalism and had two children.

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More than 15 years of Journalism, NGO and teaching jobs later, she met Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, dived into acting, playwriting and theatre-making. Theatre facilitated her return to tree-gazing, Carnatic music (vocal and violin) and led her to explore Kalaripayattu and Tai Chi.

She was led back to her dream of writing fiction and poetry after Dum Pukht 2016 – a seriously fun and further life-altering writing workshop at Adishakti Theatre, Pondicherry. Her short story ‘Eyes Full of Dreams’ won the #Iwritefordiversity contest conducted by IIM, Bangalore. She’s currently working on a couple of writing projects including what may choose to become an anthology of short stories or a novel, while pursuing “treevelling” (a word she invented for ‘travelling to meet trees and revel in them’). She’s also slow-cooking a theatrical piece about her relationship with trees and writing the fifth draft of a full-length play on matchmaking and marriage in contemporary India. She facilitates the sharing of people’s tree-thoughts and memories through the ‘Treevellers Katte’ – a holding space for trees and stories. She wrote the script for A Mahatma called Gandhi (Media Fusion India Pvt. Ltd, 2007). Her work has been published in India Smiles (Penguin, 2006); 50 Writers 50 Books (Collins, 2013) and I dine sko/In Your Shoes (Norwegian, English and Hindi; Bokvennan Forlag, 2014).

Charumathi is deeply interested in listening to people’s stories and believes in the power of stories to heal the worlds that people inhabit. She would like to apply the synergy between stories, education and creativity in classrooms and learning spaces of diverse kinds.

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Bunty Shrestha

Bunty Shrestha

Senior Programme Facilitator – Uhuru & Programme Coordinator – Pipilika

Bunty holds a Master’s in Psychology and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Counselling from Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu. She has worked as a lecturer for two years- teaching general psychology to undergraduate students in Nepal.

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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 pastels, and she has found joy in gardening. Coming to Snehadhara has helped her to be 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 has been of a facilitator with the Locomotor group and the ASD group. Apart from that she has been coordinating the Pipilika Program for the last two years.

She has also been certified as an Arts Based Practitioner from WCCLF, Pune.

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Arun Kumar

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 and he has been certified as an Arts Based Practitioner from Prajnadhara, Bangalore.

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While he comes from some theatre experience, 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 5 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.

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Kavita Verma

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 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. For the last three years she has been coordinating the Snehasangiti programme with Kids Corner School.

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.

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Krutika Madhok

Krutika Madhok

Programme Facilitator - Uhuru

Krutika is a graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from FLAME University, Pune. For as long as she remembers she has wanted to be the change she wishes to see in the world and this very thought has motivated her to be where she is right now to walk upon the path to make this difference! Krutika has interned at various settings that work with children who have special needs. In her first interaction with children she immediately connected with them; their eagerness, curiosity, willingness and happiness was so contagious that it made her realise this is what she wanted to do! These experiences broadened her horizon and knowledge about herself and others.

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Krutika has a knack of using unconventional means to reach a conventional outcome and alternate methods are what truly bring joy to her world! Her experience with ABT is valuable and has helped her realise the importance and relevance of using art and its various forms, as a medium to help reach equilibrium in an individual! She has high aspirations that one day the world will be in perfect harmony with itself, and everyone in it and that can only be achieved through ART, and this belief gets reinforced every time she sets foot into Snehadhara, where she sees rationality, sensitivity, harmony and lots of LOVE!

She is pursuing the Certificate Course on Arts Based Therapy from Prajnadhara, Bangalore.

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Sayonika Sengupta

Sayonika Sengupta

Programme Facilitator-Uhuru

Sayonika is a History Graduate from Lady Shri Ram College for Women, DU, Delhi and a Masters in Elementary Education from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. She has worked on curriculum development and teacher training in the past. She is interested in learning how children learn. She has been working with children and teachers for the last 10 years.

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Her favourite role was that of a facilitator and activist for child rights, specifically right to participation and ecological rights for children in rural Andhra Pradesh. She loves to see children take leadership roles and explore new horizons. Working with children with special needs is a very important chapter in her life.

Sayonika loves to paint, read and travel. She is deeply influenced by ABT and feels fortunate to have come across it. She is a mother to a toddler and they together have set out to explore the world of ABT. She feels that “No better place can it be for this other than SNEHADHARA!”

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Anna Chatterjee

Anna Chatterjee

Programme Facilitator-Uhuru

Art has always been Anna’s passion and she wants to share it with others so they may find a way of expressing themselves and learning from it. ‘Art being a liberating method of expression helps individuals understand themselves’, is what she believes. With a Master’s Degree in Human Development and a Bachelor’s degree in Home Science, she has been exposed to the world of children and their development. This has been a motivation to do something different. She has planned theme based activities for children in the kindergarten and executed the same.

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Anna interned at an organisation with intellectually challenged individuals where she realised that she was well suited for tasks that involve training and teaching using art and play as methods, methods that she had only studied about. Arts based methods of intervention bring together her passion and her interest into practice and therefore, she believes will bring the best outcomes.

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Pavani Madhira

Pavani Madhira

Programme Facilitator-Uhuru

Having been part home schooled, Pavani grew up going to art classes regularly and learning French. Her own schooling experience made her believe that each child has his or her own magic that needs to be nurtured in their own pace.

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After completing her B.A in politics and economics, she took a year’s break to travel around the country. While travelling, she stumbled across a few wonderful NGO’s that work with children with special needs which graciously allowed her to volunteer with them. This led her to discover the joy that she feels when around children. It was only a matter of time before she decided that she wanted to do the Arts Based Therapy certificate course and take this up as a career.

Apart from being around children, she enjoys being around all kinds of animals and is passionate about travelling. She also enjoys learning new languages and has learnt a bit of Spanish and Japanese other than French. Pavani hopes to grow into a more confident, mindful and empathetic facilitator.

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Arjun Khera

Arjun Khera

SF Fellow – Arts Practitioner

Arjun has a Master’s degree in Drama and Movement Therapy from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London. After securing a bachelor’s degree in Arts and Law from Symbiosis International University, Pune, Arjun practiced law in courts in Delhi for a law firm. Driven to work in direct social inclusion fields, he left his practice guided by his interests and experience in Acting, Directing and Applied Theatre during his undergraduate years. Now an Arts Psychotherapy practitioner, Arjun is skilled in the intentional use of play, drama, story and movement to facilitate healing, emotional expression and better mental health. In his postgraduate clinical placements and very recent professional practice, Arjun has focussed on the use of Dramatherapy practices to address emotional and behavioural difficulties experienced by children in school and after school settings.

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During his post-graduate years, Arjun extensively delivered Dramatherapy sessions to children, adolescents and adults with mild to severe and profound and multiple learning disabilities; to facilitate emotional and sensory expression and better mental health. With his postgraduate training firmly rooted in the practices and principles of Sesame Dramatherapy, an approach developed by Marian ‘Billy’ Lindkvist in the United Kingdom now a taught Masters programme at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Arjun’s neurodiverse clinical practice doesn’t put a premium on words, but which he feels are welcome should they appear in a Dramatherapy session which may be entirely non-verbal.

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Krishnapriya K

Krishnapriya K

Programme Facilitator-Uhuru

Priya, as she is more popularly known, hails from the quaint town of Palakkad in Kerala. After graduating from Avinashilingam University, Coimbatore with a master’s 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. She has been an integral part of our programmes and also worked with us in putting our Oota Thota programme for the senior group together. Priya’s strength is her remarkable ability to connect with children and the child in every adult. She has been a strong advocate of inclusion.

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Archana Kumar

Archana Kumar

Programme Facilitator – Uhuru

Archana Kumar is an independent performing artist, who prefers to speak the uncomfortable truths. Her works are bold, evocative and radical. Her decade long residence in USA carved most of her foundational training in modern dance, physical theatre and improvisation. Her artistic journey began with Kathak, which she continues to actively teach in Bangalore (History: led a premier Kathak school in Seattle; was adjunct faculty at Cornish College of Arts, Seattle & Northwestern Univ, Evanston).

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She owes much of her experience in the Theatre to her mentor Hiroshi Ohashi of the Proto Theatre, Tokyo (since 2005). Currently, she’s been exploring and introducing Kathak’s daughter , Flamenco to Bangalore, through her Flamenco Ensemble, workshops and private classes. She also is a Hindustani vocalist and offers Introductory classes in the vocal form to anyone who is interested. Given her extensive work with dance and movement, she will be facilitating the achievement of therapeutic goals in the motor language and social domains with certain groups of children at Snehadhara.

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Akhshay Gandhi

Akhshay Gandhi

Programme Facilitator – Uhuru

Akhshay Gandhi is a Theatre performer, director and writer engaged in creating theatre and performance practices. He is the Founder & Artistic Director of Still Space Theatre, Bangalore. He is an alumnus of Odin Teatret (Performance Research), Denmark and SITI Company (Suzuki, Viewpoints & Advance Performance practices), New York. In India, Akhshay has received theatre training at Indian Ensemble, Adishakti (Pondicherry) and Theatre professionals (Mumbai). He has trained with Veena Basavarajaiah in movement arts.

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Recipient of the Tata Scholar Grant and the BITSAA 30u30 award, Akhshay is a TEDx speaker, who has also spoken at the Economic Times Summit. Akhshay’s work covers scripted, devised, experimental, inter-disciplinary and traditional performances. His recent work includes – In Place of…, Burn My Diaries, Clearing the Rubble and Kaavad Katha. He has performed at prestigious venues including Stanford, UCLA, UC Berkeley, Columbia, Spoken Fest (Mumbai), Ranga Shankara (Bangalore) etc. He researches and teaches Theatre and Applied Theatre. He recently taught at Story ki Bori, Neev lit fest (Bangalore), Kitaabo Lit fest (Jodhpur), Disha Lit fest (Kanpur), Shell India and also conducts an Actor’s course at Still Space (Bangalore). At Snehadhara Foundation, Akhshay will take forward the theatre based voice and body work he started with the adult group during the Summer School.

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Rukmini

Rukmini

Programme Co-Facilitator – Uhuru

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 then came into Snehadhara fold. 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.” She has been taking care of the Pre- Vocational and self care sessions for the group of adults with special needs at Snehadhara.

M Munirathna

M Munirathna

Programme Co-Facilitator – Uhuru

Munirathna worked in Camlin School, Bangalore, for over 7 years. She taught LKG and UKG students and facilitated art and craft sessions for High School students. She is at ease with multiple languages including Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Kannada and English. She best loves working with children between the ages 3 to 6. She has two sons (18 yrs and 9 yrs). She looks forward to exploring learning opportunities with children and adults who have special needs.

Rahul Varghese

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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Shaji V John

Shaji V John

Admin and Operations

Shaji V John hails from Kannur in Kerala. He moved to Bangalore 15 years ago and worked with Preston Images as a Facilities Manager and British RO Establishment as Admin Support. But the time he spent volunteering at an old age home, made him feel like he wanted to look at being part of something where he could give back to society, and that is what led him to Snehadhara.

As Office and Admin In-charge, his role here covers transport co-ordination, purchase and maintenance and program support. He enjoys listening to music and he prides himself on being a good sportsman in his youth, with his favourite games being volleyball and kabbadi.