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Kusum Devi with her son, Shrawan. After receiving mother’s training on how to deal with children with autisim, Kusum has been seeing progress in Shrawan’s daily activities. He now can play on his own and signals his feelings. Photo: Alina/IM South Asia

Kiran Society - a Step on the Path to Empowerment

Published 6 September 2017

All children, irrespective of their preconditions, have a right to equal and accessible education. Kiran Society, a local IM partner in India, work with disabled children and their families to maximize their children’s independence, their functioning ability and reduce their limitations. For mothers, Kusum Devi, Pramila Bharati and their sons the early help has made a world of difference.

Children with disability, especially ones from poor and marginalized communities do not have the same access to education. Their parents, who are often struggling to make ends meet, lack resource and information necessary to take proper care of their children’s special needs. Stigma and lack of awareness attached with disability deprive them of proper care and timely treatment.
When Pramila Bharati’s son was born with a club foot, her neighbors said that it was nothing to worry about and that he would start walking normally as he got older. Little did Pramila know, that the deformity could restrict her child’s movement if not treated on time. Luckily, her son was identified by a local animator and referred her to a free health camp, where therapists provide parents of children with special needs like Pramila with counseling and way forward.

IM’s local partner, Kiran Society has been working to support children with disability to provide rehabilitation and ensure their right to education by promoting inclusive education. Kiran trains local animators to identify, assess and diagnose different physical and mental disabilities. Once they identify children with such disabilities, they refer them to free health camps, where Kiran staff provide them with counseling and way forward. They have been organizing such free health camps to ensure that these children, especially ones from poor and marginalized communities are identified on time and receive proper rehabilitation support.

Kiran also trains parents to maximize their children’s independence, their functioning ability and reduce their limitations. Special educators and therapists visit such parents’ home to guide them on providing special care to the children. Shrawan, 5 years of age, is autistic. His mother Kusum Devi is a simple village woman, who didn’t understand why her youngest son was different from other children. He would hurt himself by banging his head on the wall. He had trouble doing daily living activities such as eating, walking and playing. After almost a year of support from a Special educator, Shrawan is learning to walk, eat, play and communicate his needs with his mother. Kusum shares, “I thought he would never walk. So, when he first started walking, my happiness knew no bounds.” She is no longer worried that, Shrawan won’t be able to take care of himself in her absence. If he continues with the progress, he will soon be enrolled in a nearby school.

India has committed to eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations by 2030, as part of its pledge towards Sustainable Development Goals. Organizations like Kiran directly work towards these goals. Together, we need to work towards the world where children like Shrawan and Pramila’s son will have proper treatment, rehabilitation, and support and can attend school along with other children with dignity.

Pramila Bharati, with her 7 months old son who has clubbed foot during health camp organized by Kiran Society. The earlier such deformities are identified, the faster it can be corrected. Photo: Alina Karki/IM South Asia