Monday, April 17, 2017

Arvind Saurabh -Residential Home for Intellectually Challenged

Every parent’s main worry is what will happen to their child after they are there no more. The siblings have a life of their own and it becomes difficult for them to take care of their intellectually challenged persons. There is dire need for residential homes.

I had privilege to visit one such home at Pune called Arvind Saurabh, also known as Umed Pariwar.  Founded in 1990, Arvind Saurabh is Pune based Parent’s organisation that works for the specialised needs and betterment of Mentally Challenged and Cerebral Palsy persons. This home is located at Wadaki Nala, on Hadapsar Saswad Road on the foothills of Kanifnath temple. It is located at 25kms from Pune.

We drove through barren land, through the mud path to arrive at beautiful 10-acres wide campus in the midst of large open landscape.

We were greeted by Jyoti Nahar, one of the parents, who is the resident at the campus. She took us around showing us the facilities at the home.

At the vocational room, lots of activities are carried out such as paper bag making, making office files, envelops, handmade paper articles, gift articles and many such activities.

The building is very neat with a large courtyard in the centre where children can play outdoor activities, surrounded on all sides with large bright rooms. The dormitory had 6-8 beds in a room, fairly distant with beds and cupboards. The bathrooms are large enough to accommodate a wheelchair and designed to cater to their special needs. There are smaller private rooms upstairs for children who are independent or wish to stay with their live-in parents.

We were then invited for lunch. The campus has in-house vegetable gardening and diary facility. The food was nutritious and very tasty.

I was quite impressed with the facilities at this place. There was solar and windmill energy, a swimming pool with hydrotherapy, modern kitchen facility with dinning hall, polyclinic facility for health check up, gymnasium facilities and guest house for parents, so that they can come and stay with their children.

The intellectually challenged adults looked quite content and cheerful and were quite happy to meet us and click pictures with us.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Aditi Verma – Entrepreneur With Down Syndrome

The greatest happiness that any teacher feels is when her students achieves success in life. When the student is special with downs syndrome, the happiness is ten fold.

Normally the first reaction that the parents get when they get a special child  with down syndrome is  one of shock and confusion. They feel their world has fallen apart, they are frightened for the future. But after few years, they begin to understand their child and learn that children with down syndrome are really very talented. If trained under special care, they are as capable of leading a normal life as any other normal person, only a little bit slower and may need supervision.

Aditi Verma beat disability and became entrepreneur when her parents gifted her with eatery on new year’s day last year.

On my recent visit to school at CBD, Belapur, I decided to spend one afternoon at Bhoomi Mall at CBD after school hours. Bhoomi mall is still new, with many shops waiting to find its owner, but three floors upstairs is a small eatery called ‘Aditi’s Corner’ that sells chocolates, drinks and snacks and is run by Aditi Verma who has Down Syndrome.

What will you have?” She asks as soon as we settle on the chair outside the eatery. I want to give her business so I ask her what on menu. The dish of the day is ‘Vegetarian Briyani’

Everyday is different lunch” she explains. The food is cooked at home and the servings are just heated in microwave at the stall. There are many offices in this mall that patronise her café.

I glance into her eatery and see chocolates, wafers, biscuits, Maggi packets, soft drinks along with sandwiches. There is a small fridge in one corner, a coffee and tea making machine on the other side. I am not really hungry and cannot decide what to order.

Will you have corn pattice?” she offers. I order for one dish that I share with my friend. The frozen corn pattice are removed from fridge and heated on hot grill and served with tomato sauce and mint chutney. It tastes good. She has two staff members, Sardar Paramjit who takes care of cooking at the café and Ram, the delivery boy, who carries the deliveries to the offices in the mall.

She sits down with us for a friendly chat and I am impressed. During her days at our school at Swami Brahmamand Prathisthan, Maths was her favorite subject, and she had won the ‘Best Student Award’ in 2010 for her overall performance. Besides academics, Aditi loved dancing and dramatics and in an inter-school competition in 2012, won the ‘Best Actress Award’

Phone rings and she takes pen and jots down the order. Some one in the mall wants sandwiches and coffee. She repeats the order to her delivery boy and then turns her attention back to us and talks about herself. At 6pm she will go home.

Will you go home alone? I ask

Yes, I will take autorickshaw” she says

She is quite independent and confident. Aditi Verma has taken her initiative further. She represented Maharastra as an entrepreneur in the Self Advocate Forum of India (SAFI) at Bangaluru on December 9, 2016

I even gave a lecture on my initiative and my desire to expand it.” she has been nominated as the State representative for SAFI

Later, we go one floor down the mall to meet her father who owns an office in the same building. He is one proud father who speak fondly of her achievements.

Hope is re-kindled for other special children too.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Autism Awareness Month

Autism Awareness Day falls on 2nd April. This is the day when people from all walks of life come together to spread the awareness about limitations of special children, the problems faced by their parents, teachers and their care takers and how they can overcome it to help their child to lead a normal life.

Social media plays a big role in spreading awareness, its by sharing, we can find light.

This year too, April being the 'National Poetry Writing Month' (#NaPoWriMo), a private poets' group on Facebook called 'The Significant League' encouraged the poets to submit the poems on Autism under the prompt 'Blue and Gold'

There was a huge response, such that Dr Koshi AV and Nalinili Srivastava, compiled

A Poetic Journey: An Insight into the world of Autism From the Poet’s Point of View.

Here is my poem that also appears in this anthology

A Graceful Dance

Pushpa Moorjani
There is breathless
Hush in the close
I see you move
Unaware of
Sound and fury of
My pride
Like a peacock
Spreading its wings
You dance to the rhythm
Nobody guessed
your struggle of
Stiff bones
And unstable mind
It was not easy
Many times
I almost died
To see you fall
After few graceful steps
On the floor
Unable to arise
Remember I said
“You cannot do
Leave it,
This art is not for you”
You blinked, confused when
I packed your anklets
Kept them aside
I blamed myself
For dreaming on a star
Guilt stung me like a thorn
I could not mould you
Into perfection
Of a happy child
But today,
Wide-eyed I watched
Through my night-smudged vision
You moved
Twisted and twirled
To a rhythm of your soul
Pulsing my heart
With melody
that cut like a knife
I could only hear
Audience around me
Applaud many times.
Tears blind me I see you shine
© Pushpa Moorjani. All rights reserved.
To read the poems by other poets you can visit their site at 'DIFFERENT TRUTHS"

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Films On Cerebral Palsy

Some years ago, I had met Malini at the bookstore. I was more fascinated by her independence specially when she communicated using her ipad with a voice. She seemed quite intelligent although she had difficulty in controlling her stiff limbs.

Malini suffers from cerebral palsy characterized by an abnormal muscle tone, reflexes or motor development and coordination. The classical symptoms are spasms, other involuntary movements (eg. Facial gestures), unsteady gait, problems with balance. The body refuses to obey the mind and it is difficult to even reach for a drink without spilling it.

The new Bollywood film ‘Margarita with a Straw’ is inspired by Malini but focuses more on the intelligence and the emotions of a teenager.

Kalki who plays the wheelchair bound spastic person, has done a brilliant acting of living in a trapped body, dealing with her sexual urges through masturbation, love affairs and disappointments.

I was however surprised to see the reaction of people who saw the film. There was certain kind of discomfort and embarrassment, as if handicap people are not supposed to have such emotions. I am not sure if handicap people are too sex starved that they will indulge with every person (man or woman) who shows affection to them,(the impression that some people get while watching this film) but even if they do, it cannot be used as yardstick for judging other handicapped people.

Many films have been made on spastic people.

In 2012 Spandan, a Marathi film with English sub titles by Vegitha Reddy and Aman Tripathi, focuses on the frustration of parents of spastic child, who have to deal with the stigma associated with this condition.

In 1989,  My Left Foot, a drama film by Jim Sheridan tells the real life story of Christy Brown, an Irishman born with cerebral palsy, who could control only his left foot. He grew up in poor working class family but became a writer and painter.

1972, documentary film Goodbye CP by Kazoa Hara is another heart wrenching film on CP that makes you hate God for creating so much suffering. It focuses on how these people are ignored and disregarded in Japan. In one part of the film, the other men in the group tell about how and when they first had sex and what problem having CP has played in their lives.

From time to time, films are made on Special Persons who are differently abled to bring home the awareness that such problems exists and compassion is necessary to help them live as normal as possible without making too much fuss about it.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Living with Special Needs In India

A lot has to be done to make 'persons with special needs' life more comfortable.

Every change happens with just one short step, a step of care and concern, a step to make a difference in somebody's life, a step towards progress.

Recently I have joined Local Circle. Various communities are being formed with common goals where people are eager to give in their support. Remember Modi government has promised 'Achey Din' but he cannot do anything alone. right? We, as citizens have to come forward to help india achieve 'Achey din'

For that purpose I have stumbled upon this page on Local Circle that discusses how we can contribute in making persons with special needs life simpler.

All of us would agree to the fact that life of people with special needs or disability is very tough in India. A lot needs to be done to bring the facilities at par with the international standards. The 165,000+ strong “Transform India with Modi” online community has come together to collectively identify the key issues, the root causes and solutions for people Living with Special Needs in India. This submission is being made to the Government Leaders and the citizen community hopes that the Government will implement the identified solutions to make life for Special Needs Citizens of India, easier and better.

Only the people who live with special children understand the problems these children are facing when they venture out on the road. 

Mentally challenged people shall have to be provided privileges like health insurance coverage and specialized hospitals to be provided. Parks for children and common/general at places near colonies to be built. Traffic jams to be controlled to make pedestrians to walk freely on foot paths. Medical facilities to be provided at reasonable cost – says Gedela Naidu 
Parents of the special children spend too much money on the treatment for physical and occupational therapies and would like the government to set up such facilities at a low cost.

The Government in the centre as well as the states need to sit down and plan the requirement of the disabled/specially abled people of the requirements of their training, utilization of their mental abilities and institutions for their treatment, so that we can use such members of our society in productive spheres of activities. Their families should also be trained regarding the handling of such people in day to day life – says Rajendra Kapoor 
Time has come to form the communities of like minded people with common goal and make the change. Do go over to Local Communities for Special Children and discover how you can make a change to bring India to 'Ache Din'

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