How to teach your child to be charitable

Anchel Krishna's family makes it a priority to give back to the community — despite the extra financial costs of raising a child with special needs.

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Anchel spends some quality time with a couple of students at Amar Seva Sangam in rural India. Photo: Anchel Krishna

Follow along as Anchel Krishna shares her experiences as mother to Syona, an extraordinary toddler with cerebral palsy.

Syona’s nursery school is running a fundraiser this week. When I asked my mother-in-law if she’d like to donate she laughed about how we’re all a family of fundraisers (while throwing her donation into the envelope).

Read more: 7 cool school fundraising ideas >

As a teenager, I remember volunteering for the 30-hour famine, anti-racism initiatives and a number of other causes. In my early 20s I volunteered as a mentor with at-risk women. Time and family obligations have gotten in the way recently, and it’s one part of my past life I really miss and will be looking to get back into in the new year. I work for a charitable organization, and we make donations to some of the healthcare and rehabilitation organizations that help us with Syona’s challenges. My mother-in-law also runs Handi Care International, a charity that supports inclusive schools and rehabilitation facilities for those with disabilities and no access to schooling or rehab centres in India.

In December 2009, Dilip and I visited Amar Seva Sangam in rural south India. Sangam is supported by Handi Care and run by Dilip’s uncle and aunt. The centre ensures that all local kids have access to education while also providing children with special needs a place to live, food to eat, an education, therapies, medical equipment and a transition into adulthood plan. Those who can pay, do and they find a way for those who can’t pay to attend and get the benefits anyway.

Dilip’s aunt and uncle both have muscular dystrophy and have first-hand knowledge of the challenges that come from a disability. Hands down, it’s one of the most inspiring and happy places I’ve visited in my life. The kids are well cared for, loved, nurtured and educated.

Handi Care’s annual fundraiser for Amar Seva Sangam is coming up next weekend in Toronto. We’ve been able to attend the event almost every year, but since Syona’s birth this cause has become extra special to me. Last year, they raised funds to build an early intervention centre to help support their program, which provides services completely free of charge. This year, their focus is on raising funds to ensure the program can continue to operate on a cost-free basis, purchase medical and rehabilitative equipment for kids and train parents on how to perform at-home therapy routines with their children.

We know that Syona faces a number of extra challenges. Despite these challenges we know how fortunate we are to live in a world — and have jobs that allow us — to provide Syona with opportunities to maximize her potential. There are so many families in need — close to home and around the world. I often think back to that old adage that when you become a mother, you become a mother to the world.

I know not everyone can afford to give to charity. We are blessed enough to earmark some funds in our budget to help other kids. I want Syona to grow up learning the importance of gratitude and how those of us who have been blessed have a responsibility to support those who need it — in whatever ways we can.

If you’re interested in learning more about Handi Care visit their website or tweet me @AnchelK.

Does your family participate in charity, either through giving or volunteering?

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