Training and a future
Since 2003, the charity group “Kinder in Not” (Children in Need) has been supporting a day-care center with an adjoining health center for physically and mentally disabled children in Palamaner, South India.
These girls and boys come from the poorest families in Palamaner and the surrounding countryside. Many of them can be classed among the forgotten children. They are in urgent need of affection and care, but their parents could not deal with their disabilities and treated them unfairly and sometimes unkindly. In addition, these children had no access to education and training because they couldn’t hear or walk, or had mental or other disabilities.
One hundred girls and boys with different physical and mental disabilities are currently being looked after and taught in our center. We are fortunate to have Prof. Jeychandran from Chennai, who has a good deal of experience in training and looking after disabled children in India, to support our teachers and social workers on regular basis through advice, seminars and recommendations. The girls and boys need the best possible assistance so that they can develop as much independence and self assurance as possible. In addition, they receive excellent and regular medical care in our health center from a doctor, physiotherapist and nurse. Operations at a hospital in Bangalore help, where possible, to reduce the pain that the children endure.
Several of the youths initially admitted to the Kinder Special Care School have now completed their schooling. Simply returning then to their earlier life and families would have been a very bad move. Together with the aid project staff we therefore discussed and investigated what kinds of vocational training they could pursue and what would interest them.
We chose three occupations: dairy and vegetable farming, sewing and candlemaking. After the trial courses, the girls and boys decided on a two- or three-year training, depending on their disability and interest, in one of these occupations.
The first twelve students have now completed their first year in dairy and vegetable farming. Assisted and counseled by a trainer, they are responsible for twelve dairy cows. This involves providing them with feed from the surrounding fields, milking the cows, distributing it in the daycare center and selling it to neighbours as well as cleaning the cow stalls. They also tend several large vegetable patches, harvesting their own potatoes and fruit.
A cow to secure a livelihood
In view of the disabilities, the medically determined rest periods are strictly observed. The young people enjoy the work, and it makes them more independent and self-assured. It is planned that on conclusion of the training the trainees will be given a cow as a way for them to help support their families.
In the sewing room they are shown by an expert seamstress how to make simple clothing so as to be able later on to earn a little through sewing work and hence to be a little less reliant on their families. On completion of their training these girls and boys will be given a sewing machine and some fabric as starting capital.
Candle-making is very popular. The colorful and differently shaped candles fire the students’ imagination. They will later be able to make candles of all kinds at home and sell them. For the teachers as well, the first year was a time of learning and improving the training programs. A good deal of patience was required, and occasionally it had to be accepted that some girls or boys were not suited for a particular occupation on account of their disability. Thanks to the skills they have learnt, the first year has made the youngsters far more independent and also more able to stand their ground within their families. They experience something that has always been missing from their lives: the feeling that their families are proud of them.