Accessibility January 8, 2021
Project IDI by Perkins India lights up lives of kids with MDVI in rural Uttar Pradesh
Children with multiple disabilities and visual impairment (MDVI) are among the most marginalised in India. This is more so in Uttar Pradesh, India’s poorest state and the most populated. Bringing a ray of hope into the lives of these children and their families is Project Identification and Intervention (IDI), a pilot programme of Perkins India.
Through much of their early childhood, Naina and Sunaina did not step out of their homes. The eight-year-old twins, born with multiple disabilities and visual impairment (MDVI) live with their parents in a village outside Uttar Pradesh’s capital Lucknow.
Their father, a vegetable seller and mother, a homemaker, were worried as they could not send them to the neighbourhood school or access any support services. All that changed after a screening camp was organised in their village by Perkins India as part of their pilot programme Project Identification and Intervention (IDI).
For nearly 30 years now, Perkins India, backed by Perkins School for the Blind’s International Program, has been working in communities across India to offer its expertise in serving children with MDVI. That experience, which involved partnering with local NGOs, culminated in Project IDI.
Today, thanks to Project IDI, children like Naina and Sunaina are finding the critical support they need. The intervention includes raising awareness, guiding families, helping them access government services, and enrolling children in local Anganwadis and schools. This is done in partnership with local NGOs, anganwadi workers and ASHAs, ASHA, which stands for accredited social health activist, are community health workers instituted by the Government of India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) as a part of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).
Targeting the most marginalised
“Perkins India and Jayati Bharatam (Lucknow-based NGO) are like a guardian to my daughters”, says Suresh, Naina and Sunaina’s father. “They helped us in getting disability certificates. I never imagined my daughters could ever go to school, but through their support they secured admission in the local school. They also provided a wheelchair and toilet chair which has made life so much easier for them. My family has received moral support and encouragement as well. We feel our daughters can lead a meaningful life”.
Project IDI focuses its work on three districts of U.P – Lucknow, Sitapur and Brindavan. The children come from poor socio-economic backgrounds and one of the main challenges, says Sampada Shevde, Country Head, Perkins India, is lack of awareness.
It all links to low levels of literacy and the marginalised backgrounds. To add to that when you have a child with MDVI it becomes even more difficult. There’s also no information about the various government schemes and benefits a child can access. Of the 1,009 children screened for MDVI, we found that 63% of them didn’t have a disability certificate. The parents were not aware that the certificate would enable them to access government schemes.- Sampada Shevde, Country Head, Perkins India
Over one year after it was launched in U.P, Project IDI has:
- Screened 1,009 kids for MDVI.
- Trained over 70 frontline professionals to identify and serve them.
- Reached children in schools, hospitals, and homes in over 300 villages.
“One of the biggest advantages of IDI has been that somewhere we have mangled to bridge the gap between health and equation”, adds Sampada.
The IDI team goes well beyond screening camps and connects the families to important services. This includes education, getting disability certificates, links to the local civil hospital, and even training medical professionals to address the needs of the children. Children who cannot travel to school are educated at home.
Working in the local community has not always been easy.
Bridging critical gaps
“Previously when we went in the villages and told families about Project IDI, they refused to believe us”, says Muneesh, Special Educator with Jayati Bharatam. “This was due to several unpleasant experiences they had with some of the agencies who promised them disability certificate and support for intervention. However, after repeatedly meeting them, them, they now know we are here to do genuine work and participate in our screening camps wherever we are”.
A support that has continued right through the pandemic.
“During this difficult time, Sunaina and Naina have been receiving regular intervention through the phone”, says Suresh. “This helps us to engage both in activities at home. They both enjoy studying and activities like colouring and play. This makes them so happy”.
The smiles on the faces of these children are a testament to that.
Video Credit – Perkins School for the Blind
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