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Disability Programs

Our goal: 

To empower and rehabilitate disabled persons  in Andimadam and Sendurai Blocks
(Ariyalur District, Andimadam).

Quick links:
1) Initial training & survey 5). School for mentally disabled children
2). Community and individual awareness programs 6). Vocational Training Programs
3) Community-based Rehabilitation  7). Linkage to government welfare schemes
4). Disability self-help groups with micro-financing 8). Celebration of World Disability Day

1) Initial training & survey
READ’s programs on disability started in 2003.  To learn how to work on disability issues, 5 staff members of READ first followed a 45-days training program offered by ADD INDIA. Then a survey was conducted in 30 villages in the area of Andimadam, and in a population of 102,74 persons, a total of 1,132 physically challenged persons were identified.

2). Community and individual awareness programs

READ organized awareness and sensitisation program for the general population and for disabled people through focus group meetings. Approximately 4138 persons participated in these programs to learn more about the causes, prevention and rehabilitation intervention strategies. In addition, the READ Cultural Team organized 22 street theater performances. In addtion to these community programs, individual counselling is offered to physically challenged people, including the importance of self-help groups.
awareness program

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3) Community-based Rehabilitation 
Community Based Rehabilitation focuses on involving the family and the community at large in the treatment and rehabilitation process. This approach strengthens the community to support the family to meet the needs of the disabled and empowers the disabled person to live as a participative member of the family and the community. Over the years, physiotherapy was offered to 61 orthopedically handicapped people in the communities.

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4). Disability self-help group programs with micro-finance activities

In April 2006, thanks to grant support from the Abilis Foundation, we started a project in Sendurai block, titled, “Empowering Persons with Disabilities through Self-help action”.
Partners on this project include:

a). Our partners in the program:

  • Organization for Development Action- (ODA), Trichy provided staff capacity building. Topics included project vision setting and management practices, training and networking services.
  • Parivalaya, Karur gave training to the field staff in Physiotherapy
  • Vidya Sagar, Chennai guided our rehabilitation intervention with cerebral palsy/mental retardation children by training the staff on field support services, and the design and components of community-based rehabilitation programs.
  • Government authorities including the District Disabled Rehabilitation officer, the District collector, and local government officials assisted us to implement the stipulated welfare schemes in our district.
  • We participate in the district member committee of National Trust Act for the severely disabled persons to better coordinate the services with government departments and other voluntary organizations.

b) Involvement of women in the project (planning, decision-making and project activities
Because READ had already extensive experience with forming women self-help groups that run micro-savings and -credit activities, and these women have insights in the issues that affect particularly disabled women, they were actively involved in our programs. To integrate both programs, disabled women were encouraged to participate in general training programs that were held in the area; additional programs were designed specifically for disabled women and girls. The leadership trainings that were provided to disabled women made them more active leaders and decision-makers in all their self-help group activities.

c) Disability Self-Help Groups (SHG)
The project promoted the formation of 26 SHG among people with disabilities in Sendurai block. Reasons that the members cited for joining the groups included the need to overcome loneliness, to feel wanted, to share problems and find solutions, to build their capacity and capabilities, to get information on job opportunities and referrals, and to get financial help to develop their own livelihood. The SHG Self-help groups and network thus provided respondents with a safe environment devoid of judgment and discrimination. These groups gather twice monthly to identify and prioritize the needs and to advocate the rights of the disabled persons to lead a respectable social life.  The books of accounts and the minutes of the meetings are maintained by the officers, who received training from READ and are continuing to improve their skills to administer the groups

d). Micro-finance program for disabled people
The 26 groups opened a bank account and contributed savings regularly. The total SHG amount has accrued to Rs. 110,470 (~$2300). Among the 26, three groups have each received a revolving loan fund of Rs. 10,000, and two groups have each received Rs. 15,000 each from the Abilis Foundation. The members are using the revolving loan fund to meet their social and economic needs. So far, 49 members have initiated self-employment activities.

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5). School for mentally disabled children:

READ runs two "Anbagam Special Schools" for mentally disabled children; one operates at the READ Community Resource Center in Andimadam, the other one is in Perambalur City. Anbagam means “Home of love”.
The children learn the basic life skills (washing, getting dressed, etc.) and depending on the severity of their retardation also other skills (such as reading, mathematics, etc). Click here for more information.

school for disabled children

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6). Vocational Training Programs

Several vocational training programs are held at the READ Community Resource Center, and include also many disabled people:

  • Tailoring
  • Greeting card production
  • Computer training
  • Book-binding

7). Linkage to government welfare schemes
As a first step towards accessing some of the available government services for disabled people, the person needs to have an identity card. READ guided the group leaders to help their members apply for such ID cards.
So far of the 596 persons who had applied, 355 have already received their ID card, while the other 241 are still pending. Thus far, 11 received concessions and 35 received educational assistance.

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8). Celebration of World Disability Day
Almost every year, READ organizes a disability awareness rally. In 2008,  900 disabled persons, students, relatives and SHG members participated. Many carried placards and chanted slogans to raise awareness on the importance of programs for disabled people. 

awareness rally awareness rally

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