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SHANTI (name changed) was born dumb and was since ignored. After her father died, her mother was helpless as her brothers and sisters neglected her. However, there was a helping hand, as Lakshmi Narayan Mahila Samithi (LNMS) took shanti into their fold, trained her and provided her employment. This opened a new chapter in Shanti/s life.

Like Shanti there are amny others who are not independent cases. Many women and children have been helped by Samithi over the last three decades.

The group has also helps organizations working with mentally challenged children and senior citizens. Established in 1971 by a handful of South Indian women in the basement of Ahobila Mutt, Chembur LNMS later moved to a larger premise in Blue Diamond Apartments, which was donated by Ranga Ramanujan Trust.

"It was set up primarily to provide financial, medical and moral support to women in distress and educational aid to poor children, besides finding suitable employment for some of the women states Janaki Ramaswamy, president of the Samithi.

Adds Alamu Ramasubhu, treasurer of LNMS: "One unique feature is our members' personal involvement in preparing the eateries, pickless etc. We cook them ourselves."

The Samithi suffered a set back but the new managing committee functions from a new premise is rearing to go.

"This year we have disbursed Rs.6000 towards students' fee, uniform and book (at Rs.500 per student). We have resumed sale of our snacks and soon out other activities will follow " reveals Indira Sarangan, Secretary of the Samithi.

Funds for LNMS' philanthropic activities emanate from donations and the marginal profit acqured through the sale of products ranging from Idli/Dosa flour to South Indian munchies, sweets, and pickles and participation in food festivals and fairs organized by other agencies.

With around 150 members most of whom housewives in the 50 plus age group, the samithi's immediate plans are to increase the membership, raise funds, and acquire a larger place of their own to run free yoga, music and tuition classes. What a way to go!

ILNMS phone contact - 550 7724 (between 2pm and 6pm)

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