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Celebrating diversity and those of different needs has been the fundamental raison d’être of Hindu Social Services Foundation (HSSF).
Celebrating diversity and those of different needs has been the fundamental raison d’être of Hindu Social Services Foundation (HSSF). Reaching out not only to the Indian community, but also a wider target group in the mainstream through meaningful work, HSSF has helped fill a gaping void in society. After all, inclusion and integration align well with their core philosophy of ‘Vasudeva Kutumbam’.
In December, HSSF commemorated the International Day of People with Disabilities with a fun evening at Don Moore Community Centre in North Rocks. In its seventh year, the event coordinated by Uma Ramasubramaniam, Shoba Kumar, and Akila Ramarathinam, brought together families with special needs for a day of music, joy and pure entertainment. Putting worries aside, albeit for a day, they sang and danced with abandon. Participants included people from many different nationalities and ethnic backgrounds, linked together by a common cause.
Compered by the very capable Shivakumar Manohar, the entertaining evening featured shloka chanting, mainstream gigs, cultural showcases and Bollywood performances. Planning and preparation for this flagship event started several months in advanced.
The evening commenced with a shloka by Arun Kumar and Vedic chanting by students of Sydney Veda Pathashala. Karthik Iyer, Prashant Ramasubramaniam and Maya Raman delighted the audience with beautifully rendered songs that brought tears to their eyes.
Representing Samarpan Group, full-time carer Rajeshwari made an audio-visual presentation on her son Sidharth Chandran’s expanding horizons, while 8-year-old Krishnan Kandan of Woodbury School demonstrated his numerical skills.
Vincent Yu, President of Differently Abled People’s Association (DAPA) and Many Minds Link spoke with passion of his pioneering work in the community.
Yu called upon parents to equip and empower their special needs children through positive nurturing and meaningful employment.
Gokul Shankar, a logistics and business studies student and member of DAPA, reiterated Yu’s words with an insightful speech on overcoming disability. The inspirational young man also performed at the event. DAPA has recently launched a new mobile app to service the different needs of people with disability.
VHP President Subramaniam Ramamoorthi spoke proudly of their track record and community service history, including the recent NSW award, which recognized HSSF’s extensive work in raising awareness by lobbying government and community agencies for disability services and respite care.
It is estimated that four million people in Australia live with a disability, with one in three people either identifying as disabled or closely related to a person with disability. Almost 90 per cent of disabilities are not directly visible.
As the afternoon progressed, a delightful array of performances brought much cheer to all gathered. The DAPA band, led by Dr Cecilia Park, NWDS and CPA Kidz band entertained the audience with evergreen and seasonal favourites. Birthday boy and Elvis impressionist, William Cardell was certainly a showstopper.
The highlight of the evening was the Bollywood showpiece by Epping Karonga Special Olympic Group. The performances concluded with soul stirring songs by Yuva Sangeetha Margam led by Namrata Pulapaka and Krishna Ramarathinam.
Certificates recognising the contribution of special needs people were presented.
Among the distinguished guests present on the occasion were Hills Shire Council Mayor Michelle Byrne, Strathfield Councillor Raj Datta, Holroyd Councillor Lisa Lake, Dave Passi of UIA, Bhupinder Chibber of GOPIO, Narayan Dhimal of Bhutanese Association and John Colebatch, CEO of North West Disability Services.
Speaking on the occasion, Colebatch said, “It is gratifying to know that there are such wonderful people and organisations in the community who recognise the need for such services and willingly contribute.”