This is a guest post by Ms. Sheron Mathew, Physiotherapist at NJH. She gives a brief description of an initiative we had with a local Catholic church in mobilizing support for parents of children with intellectual disabilities.
Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) project, has been working in Barwadih block, Latehar district for more than 2 years. CBR project mainly works on improving the quality of life of the Person with Disabilties (PWD), also with the stakeholders of the PWDs, which inlcudes family, local community and otherother people who are related to the PWDs.
Our networking with the Catholic Church at Barwadih helped the project to reach out to the community in many ways. Catholic Church has been ministering among the people there for a really long time, by providing spiritual counselling, education and basic medical facilities and these had ultimately ended up with the church developing a good rapport with the local community they serve.
With the help of Fr. Siby, CMF, vicar of the Catholic Church, Barwadih, we was able to do programme for children with intellectual disability in Gandhi Ashram, Barwadih on 11th October, 2014. When such programmes are organized, there are always major issues such as the lack of interest of the caregivers and the lack of the reach of information to those who need it. In this programme, the church played its vital role in mobilising the community as well as opening it’s doors for the children and their parents.
The turnout was really amazing. Screening was supposed to start by 8:30 in the Gandhi Ashram premises, but there were people who had already been waiting since early morning. The project provided them with our services for free consultation for the children with disability. A total of 17 children and parents had come for the programme. Most of the children were having Cerebral Palsy or some other development delay. Along with the screening, information was also provided to the parents on some basic exercise for their development and other necessary tips on how to take care of their child. There was also a discussion with parents on the possible levels to which their children can develop. Most of the children were below 8 years. It was really sad to see that few of them had spent a lot of money for treatment and diagnosis, and most of the parents weren't informed about the nature of the disability in their child and their condition and what they should do and what they can expect their children to do. There were also parents who had started some therapy for their child in the beginning but later they had had stopped because they couldn't see much improvement instantly.
After the screening of all children, the CBR team had a small discussion with the caregivers on how the project could intervene with the caregivers and their children. By proper facilitation, it was suggested by the caregiver that if the project could facilitate the availability of physiotherapist once a month, they could come together and learn from each other and ensure that they can do the maximum possible for their child in the available circumstances.
|Our Co-ordinator, Satyaprakash interacting with the parents|
It was encouraging to see that though the parents were sad about the condition of their children they had a smile on their face when they left. We are encouraged by the kindness of the priests and sisters at Catholic Ashram, especially Fr. Siby, the vicar of the local parish. He arranged lunch for all the people who came as well as expressed willingness to open the parish hall for use by these children with intellectual disabilities as well as their parents whenever they need it.
This program was a great learning for each of us as we learnt of a major avenue through which the church can reach out to an unreached group in the local community – children with intellectual disabilities and their parents. This is all the more significant in places such as ours where there are no facilities where such children and their caregivers can get help or support. I’m sure there are quite a number of churches who can learn from our experience.
Maybe, you can very well do things similar to what the Community Based Rehabilitation team at NJH are doing through the local churches. The next meeting at Catholic Ashram, Barwadih is on Saturday, the 15th November, 2014.