Indira gets help
Should she be put into a special residential school? Seven years old Indira was multiple impaired and showed a strange behaviour – even the supporting grandmother was helpless. Indira was opposing – which child would like to be put into a residential school? The parents knit their brows. Not earning more than a very low painter’s salary, how should they be able to contribute to a place in a residential school? On the other hand – having Indira at home was overtaxing everybody!
Downwards, nothing else
Indira’s visual acuity dwindled as well as the strength of her muscles in arms and legs. She had only been able to creep on the floor – while her contemporaries went to school, chatting and laughing together. Indira could only speak some short sentences. She was nervous, discontented and refractory.
Science for the poor
One day, village Lakkur was visited by Dr. Aditi from Bangolore, collecting data for a thesis. She referred impaired children to one of the two community based programmes of the Units of Hope. They are making interdisciplinary diagnose and care about measures and treatments. The parents only have to contribute to what they are able to. Indira’s parents respired.
Roses of help
The community health and rehabilitation workers play the key roll within the programme. They talk to families, counsel, accompany and refer them to either of the two units. They are specialised in children with congenital impairments or impairments acquired by accidents or illnesses. At the same day orthopedic, ophthalmologic and ENT-doctors are examining the child. So the families, mostly living further away in villages, do not have to come to the city several times. The little patients are suffering from Low Vision, eye problems like inflammations or cataract, middle ear infections, cerebral palsy, accident - acquired impairments, club feet, other deformations and infections of bones and joints. This comprehensive programme is directed by Prof. Dominich Misquith, who also counsels CBM in all questions of community based rehabilitation.
Special Shaped Help for Indira
Indira was examined carefully by a team of ophthalmologists, orthopedists and therapists. Diagnose: congenital weakness of muscles and bilateral cataract. Firstly, she was operated and fitted with glasses. Afterwards physioand ergotherapy started. Indira also got a walking aid (“rollator”) and speechtraining. Counseled and supported at home, the parents improved hygiene as well as nutrition, and they integrated Indira in their daily activities. Instructed by the rehabilitation worker, the mother is making the physiotherapeutic exercises every day. At the same time, our rehabilitation specialists prepared the teacher of the village school to integrate Indira.
Handicaps taken away
Ramps replacing steps, palpable writings, optimal lighting and transportation – impaired people are supported by our specialists to get access. Access to medical services, to education, vocational training and sufficient income – to be integrated in their social surrounding and to enjoy the same rights as every human being it should have. In order to have access to the school building, a ramp was installed. Indira is now integrated for three months at school. She is happy and does not show any difficult behaviour anymore. Her schoolmates like her very much and she has made friendships. At home she is mixing with the neighbouring children.
Special, but integrated
Every week a special teacher visits the class and supports the teacher. Because of her low vision Indira is sitting in front and she is leaning against the wall due to her weak muscles – lateral to her classmates. But they understand Indira’s circumstances and accept Indira very well.
More and more independent
To dress, to wash, to eat… Indira is managing most of the daily living activities without any help. Her parents and her grandmother are glad: now her daughter is no longer a burden, she is flowering!
Interview with Matthias Leicht, responsible for CBM Switzerland supported projects:
Impaired children often are discovered late. Why?
Many people in the country are without access to medical services and if than they are mainly of doubtful quality. On the other hand parents often do not know at all, that their child could be helped. Beside that they do not even think of visiting a doctor – much too expensive for poor families. Some parents are still travelling to specialists in the cities and get indebted because of expensive technologies and therapies. Repressing the thought that curing could be realistic or even possible! Losing precious time, that could have better been used for rehabilitation and integration.
Is it possible to regain on the time lost already?
It depends on the symptoms. If congenital cataract is operated late, a child remains low sighted in spite of artificial lenses. Blindness due to the lack of Vitamin A or because of glaucoma can be prevented, but not be cured. A blind child is able to learn how to use the white cane. Orthopedic problems like club foot can be treated even after years. Thus are requiring a lot more effort and subsequent damage is not excluded. An impaired child should be identified and treated as soon as possible.
What was most impressive while visiting the project?
I was impressed by the great empathy with which the rehabilitation workers are proving and understanding the needs of their clients in a comprehensive way. They are sharing their knowledge and are developing practical solutions together in order that the impaired child can become an equal and full member of the family. Further I have been impressed by how quickly Indira’s schoolmates had integrated her, taken her as a friend and supported her.
CBM Switzerland is offering Unit of Hope as a child sponsoring project. Why?
Unit of Hope is a model for CBM’s mandate. It offers medical help as well as rehabilitation and advocacy for the rights of impaired children. Many girls and boys are helped by Unit of Hope, and these are the stories we like to share with our donors.
Dr Deepthi Shanbagh is Assitant Prof of Community health at Saint Johns,,s did her MD in community health at Johns and is project correspondent of the Community Opthal, ENT, and Community based rehabilitation programmes in Mugalur. These are the same projects of which Indira is a beneficiary. Aditi did her MD, Community health at Johns and is currently working in Baptist Hospital.