Supporting a Socio-Economic Project for the Empowerment of People with Disabilities in 30 Villages in India

Project location: INDIA, Kadambur Hills, Tamil Nadu–
Project start date: June 2012 - Project end date: December 2012
Project number: 2012-043
Beneficiary: Mani Tese

 

1.       Introduction

“CBR (Community Based Rehabilitation) is the strategy initiated and promoted by the WHO (World Health Organization) for a cross-sectoral, human rights based approach towards inclusive development. This approach for community development is focused on involving people with disabilities, their families, the community and their organizations as primary stakeholders.

CBR ensures people with disabilities and their family members access the key essentials of life such as health, education, livelihood with a strong focus on empowerment, promoting inclusion and participation in all development and decision – making processes. The ideological and programmatic profile of the CBR programs makes achieving Millennium Development goals a reality”.

Inspired by the importance and urgency of CBR, TRED initiated the Rehabilitation and Enablement of Differently-abled Persons (REDaP) program in Kadambur hills, with Mani Tese support. Involving Differently-abled Persons (DaPs) and their families as direct beneficiaries and at the same time addressing and sensitizing the whole community on the DaPs’ needs and role in the society, TRED ensures their access to essentials of life, improving their socio-economic living conditions. In the project period different activities have been carried out (rehabilitation, community mobilization, rights based approach, education/vocational training and livelihood support), as explained in the following report.

 

Activity 1 – Preparatory action

Staff Training: Before launching the programme, TRED organized specific trainings for the field staff on types of deformity, community-based rehabilitation approach, Government available schemes for DaPs, reporting system. Four animators (three females and one male), one programme coordinator, one computer instructor-cum-accountant and the person in charge of the Solidarity centre have been attending the 5 days training for CBR workers and support staff, in the month of December 2011 at TRED office. Mr. Lobidass, former consultant for DaPs project for the Tamil Nadu Government, was the resource person. A handbook has been also distributed to staff members for references on disability, in which they could find proposed guidelines for rehabilitation and types of government welfare schemes available. Further skills have been developed during the implementation of the activities, through field experience.

 

Activity 2 - Rehabilitation

-  Referral and linkages to Hospital

During the project period and through the staff support, 10 DaPs have got regular (twice a month) Psychiatric treatment at Sathyamangalam GH (Government Hospital). Under the NMHM (National Mental Health Mission) each district hospital has a psychiatric doctor and he/she makes regular visits to the Taluk/Block hospitals. The district headquarter is in Erode, 100 Kms far from Kadambur, while Sathyamangalam is the taluk hospital, at 30 Kms. Other 3 Leprosy Cured DaPs have got regular treatment at Basavanapuram Primary Health Centre (within Kadambur hills itself). Their medical progress have been recorded and updated.

 

-  Aid and appliances

The DRWO (District Rehabilitation Welfare Office) conducted a National Identity card (NID) issuing camp for DaPs in Kadambur on 25-02-2012 at TRED centre, during which 16 DaPs obtained their NID cards. In addition, 2 DaPs got their Old Age Pension (OAP) from the DDRO (District Differently-abled Rehabilitation Office). Apart from these, TRED staff prepared a list of more than 50 DaPs to apply for availing OAP, and they submitted it to the consideration of the DDRO (still awaiting the reply). The NID is fundamental to approach the Government offices and apply for any scheme.

In addition to that, so far 13 applications have been submitted to the DDRO to obtain tricycles and crutches for those DaPs in need, but their release depend on the availability at State level (usually it takes some months).

 

-  Physiotherapy training

Physiotherapy and activities for daily living skills (ADLS) training has been organized for CP (cerebral palsy) & MR (mental retarded) children at TRED centre in the month of March 2012. Dr. Manickavel, a professional Physiotherapist from Sathyamangalam GH, was the resource person teaching different technics and imparting directly therapy to those requiring it more. 7 CP/MR children benefitted of this rehabilitation and staff members recorded their physical improvements.

Parents and care givers learned about Home Based Physiotherapy, so they can regularly assist their family members with the support from the staff. In this way, the orientation and mobility of the DaPs enhanced, a better self-image and confidence have been instilled, and the severity of the disability decreased.

 

Activity 3 – Community mobilization

-  Training for community leaders

5 training programs have been conducted for DaPs and community leaders, as per the following table:

S.N.

Date

Details of the Training Program

Total participants

Resource person

1

05-02-12

Concept and orientation on Disability programme/Formation of DaPs SHG

25

Mr. John

 

2

11-04-12

Types of Disability and Therapy/Health and hygiene

18

Dr. Manickavel

3

08-06-12

Book keeping

24

Mr. John

 

4

13-06-12

Accessing Government Scheme / CBR – approach

45

Mr. John

 

5

20-06-12

Leadership training

25

Mr. John

 

DaP sangam (association) members and women SHG leaders (137 people) participated in the programs held from February to June 2012 at TRED centre in Kadambur. Dr. Manickavel imparted one training, while Mr. John, project head in CEED NGO (Centre for education, environment and development), Sathyamangalam, with a good knowledge on those topics, was the resource person for the other 4 trainings. Schemes available for DaPs, mechanism to access the same, Self Help Groups strengthening, simple Credit and Management system, unity among the groups formed the contents of the training.

90% of DaPs and other members of the community participated actively and committed leaders emerged. They are fundamental, considering DaPs themselves have to take up the leadership of the project and search jointly for solutions to their problems of marginalization, exclusion and isolation. Leadership involves also legal entitlements knowledge, so that the duty-bearers have to answer to the target group.

-  Formation and Strengthening of Self Help Groups for DaPs

Formation of Sangams and up-scaling of their capacities is a basic/fundamental work to make their members understand CBR methodology and become the vehicle to access the available services and reach out other DaPs.

8 Self Help Groups (SHG) or sangams for DaPs have been started in 8 main villages, including the adjacent hamlets, for a total number of 59 DaPs. Their family members also joined the activities. Meetings have been conducted twice a month. Groups have been linked up with the State Bank in Kadambur heretofore. Savings, credit, loan started being practised in these groups. Trainings at cluster and village level were conducted before forming SHGs to teach them how to practise savings and credit system. Their total savings is Rs. 18.000 (up to the end of August). Accounting system has been improved, 4 types of account books are properly maintained with the staff support. Payment of savings is regular and records maintenance enhanced. Performance of the office bearers and functioning of the savings system are also improved. Sangams are actively participating in this activity.

 

-  Campaign and Advocacy on implementation of DaPs act and related issues

TRED staff participated with 8 DaPs to the camp conducted by SSA (Sarva Sikshya Abiyan), a central Government sponsored scheme to support education for all, at Girls higher secondary school, Sathyamangalam, to highlight DaPs’ rights and distribute National ID cards. The District Chief educational officer and other officials participated too.

The common presence of DaPs, Government officials, school representatives and staff from different NGOs fostered a sense of solidarity among the DaPs in the District. Other DaPs from other blocks participated to the program too. They extended their solidarity, and especially the Annai Theresa DaPs federation members from Thookkanaikanpalayam interacted with our staff and DaPs. Cooperation, participation, gathering and unity among DaPs have been strengthened.

 

Activity 4 – Preventive action

To be realized in the forthcoming months.

 

Activity 5 – Rights Based promotion action

-  Persons With Disability Act Training

The Persons With Disabilities (PWD) Act is a document of legal entitlements, enacted by the Parliament in 1996 and it deals with DaPs’ rights.

3 training programs were conducted for DaPs and community leaders, as per the following table:

S.N.

Date

Name of the Training Program

participants

Resource person

01

08-03-12

Disability and Act

17

Dr. Manickavel

02

28-03-12

CBR and PWD act

37

Dr. Udhayakumar

03

16-06-12

Awareness on PWD act

25

Mr. Chandrasekar

DaP sangam members and women SHG leaders (79 persons) participated in the trainings in the months of March and June 2012 held at TRED centre in Kadambur. Dr. Manickavel was the resource person for one training, while Dr. Udhayakumar, from Bharathiyar University, Coimbatore and Mr. Chandrasekar, Director of another NGO in Sathyamangalam, handled the other topics . 

 

Through these trainings, DaPs got some knowledge on the PWD act and its provisions (need to facilitate the DaPs movements and access to government offices and schemes, reservation in education and employment, scholarships, maintenance grants, etc.). Aware of their rights and entitled to a certain percentage of government schemes, supported by the staff they sent their applications to the Panchayat President to avail the program of group houses built by the Government for those living below poverty line. Panchayat President also promised to give employment opportunity to the less affected DaPs under MGREGP Scheme in Kuthiyalathur Panchayat (Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Programme is a scheme assuring 100 working days in a year for common purpose, like road maintenance, with a wage of Rs. 120 per day to the people living below poverty line).

Awareness of their rights and mechanism to assert them, readiness to avail the Government welfare schemes, taking-up the well-being of the DaPs have been developed  through the trainings. 

 

Activity 6 – Other

-  Educational Assistance

21 children, differently abled or having at least one parent/sibling DaP, have got educational assistance, as boarding/lodging fees, school College fees, educational materials.

Through the staff intervention, a change of attitude vis-à-vis education has become visible. At the same time, community participation and parents-teachers cooperation remarkably enhanced. On one side, parents are now willing to send their DaC (Differently-abled Children) to regular schools. On the other one, teachers are willing to accept them at school and initial reluctance has made way for collaboration with the support of SSA, promoting inclusive education.

The other children mingle and play now with the DaC, stating a significative change of attitude among them.

 

-  Computer Training

The six months computer training started in the month of February 2012. 10 young students, DaPs or having a DaP as parent/sibling, have been identified and they’ve been attending classes every week (on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays). Mr. M. Iruthiaraj, computer instructor, has carried it out meticulously. Syllabus included MS Office (Word, Excel), Internet, Outlook express, DTP (Desk top publishing), power point, accounting schemata.

Additional skills (i.e. Photo shop, coral draw) have also been thought and job opportunities have been explored, giving them some career guidance for their future.

 

-  IGP Assistance

Apart from accessing education, livelihood options through income generating programs (IGP) have been started to offer DaPs a semblance of decent living and gradually develop leadership among them.

6 DaPs have benefited and, in details, 2 DaPs have got Petty /Grocery shops, other 2 Milch animals and other 2 goats.

Beneficiaries had earlier been trained and guided on the right choice of IGP and they are regularly monitored by TRED staff. Thanks to IGP, their quality of life improved, income augmented and assets have been created. Community participation is encouraged, motivating them to buy from petty/grocery shops run by DaPs. Their family members are also involved and help out in these IGP activities. 

 

Conclusion

REDaP,a modified form ofCBR, is the key to fulfil the rights enshrined in the “Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities” (CRPD). This Convention speaks about respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy, non-discrimination, full and effective participation and inclusion in society, respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity, equality of opportunity, accessibility, equality between men and women, priority for building up the capacities of children with disabilities, etc. TRED is in the vanguard of CBR in this district.

Mani Tese
think global, act local
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