Get-hooked July 29, 2021
Organic farmer with 90% disability cares for disabled children & those affected by the pandemic
Due to polio and scoliosis, D Indra is 90% disabled and unable to walk. However, that hasn’t stopped her from taking up organic farming. She grows organic food to feed children with disabilities at Prem Illam, an organization she runs in rural Tamil Nadu. This organic farmer with a disability also supplies food to those affected by the pandemic.
D Indra was four years old when her parents placed her in a shelter home for children with learning and physical disabilities. As a result of polio and scoliosis, Indra was 90% disabled.
“When I was six months old, I developed a fever and was treated for it,” says Indra. She never fully recovered, and doctors said her condition couldn’t be treated. “I had polio and scoliosis and couldn’t walk. my parents believed that the shelter would provide me with therapy that would enable me to begin walking”.
Indra learned to read and write at the shelter, but she did not receive a formal education. After Brother Selvyn Roy entered her life, everything changed. At the time, Brother Roy was a clinical psychologist working in shelter homes across India and Sri Lanka.
No formal education until age 14
“I saw Indra’s passion for learning and decided to enroll her in a school”, he says. “It was easier said than done because many schools turned her away because of insufficient infrastructure for persons with disabilities or because they were not comfortable.” Eventually, a school agreed to take Indra in Class 8.
She struggled at first, but supportive classmates and her passion for education helped her overcome early setbacks. She later earned a postgraduate degree.
In choosing a career, she had no doubts. She joined Prema Vaasam, an organization started by Brother Roy to educate disabled children. After attaining a degree in special education, she eventually took charge of Prem Illam.
I see this as a chance to give back to society. A regular job would not have allowed me to make a sustained, meaningful contribution. My work gives me the chance to support children with disabilities who don’t have families. – D Indra, Head, Prem Illam
Persists with organic farming despite disability
Indra is both the head and parent of all 30 children with disabilities at Prem Illam. Having grown up separately from her parents and siblings, she demonstrates empathy in her role.
Indra began organic farming in Prem Illam in 2019 to provide nutritious meals to the children. Since the lockdown was imposed, she has increased the yield and now provides lunch to those affected financially and by COVID-19.
“We distribute any rice that is left after meeting the needs of the organization”, says Indra. Her success with organic farming has encouraged her to start growing vegetables and fruits. Despite her inability to walk, she regularly visits the farm.
Brother Roy, Indra’s mentor and the person who has been there for her, regards her as inspiring for many reasons.
“I have a purpose and reason for living because of Indra, says Brother Roy. “All these children came into my life because of her. She is always striving for more. Organic farming with a disability is not easy, but she never gave up despite being unable to walk. It is quite amazing to see her resilience and passion”.
As a not-for-profit organization, Prem Illam needs financial support to provide bedding for children, buy cattle feed, and sponsor a solar plant. Contact them here or donate below:
Account Name: PREM ILLAM
Account type: Savings
IFSC code: IDIB000M072
Bank Name: Indian Bank
Branch Name: Madurantakam
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