Although this project is funded we felt we should share our new initiative. The project we posted and for which we received very generous donations was for training mothers of the children in our Center in the education or therapy units .
We have now built on the opportunity provided by the Ministry of Environment which recently announced that use of plastic bags by shops and in general is banned . This was an effort towards making the city of Delhi more environmentally friendly,cleaner with less litter and garbage .So our plan was to identify women , both mothers of the disabled as well as women from the target areas where we work ,who had the time to become involved in our venture.We trained women in cutting and stitching bags of cloth and jute as well as folding and pasting paper bags . We used materials such as newspapers,handmade paper, jute and cloth which could be used for shopping, collecting garbage, carrying cell phones and some embellished with sequins etc for a more jaunty look .Cloth and jute was donated by local tailors and garment manufacturers and newspaper was easily collected from our client families and friends, so there was hardly any expense . We were able to sell these at carnivals and more recently at sale outlets set up for the festival of Diwali or Festival of Lights .
The enthusiasm with which women became involved in this has encouraged us to provide other training such as making pickles and jams and laddoos , a sperical sweet made out of rice or wheat flour and jaggery (molases).
The benefits are that the mothers who were trained are now operating from their own homes and selling them .So they get some income out of this .Their time is flexible and they can cope with house work as well as make the bags and other items if they so desire .They also train new women and mothers of the disabled who come to us now to get involved.
The proof of success came with a mother in law who told us that she never knew that her daughter in law was so clever that she could make bags and pickles and bring in some money.Her husband agreed. A more poignant success was a woman who reported that her husband had stopped physically abusing her. Earning an income had given her the courage and confidence to tell him to stop .He did .
Our goal was to train 1000 women in the low socio-economic area of Dakhsinpuri and we have now trained about 649 women.
Samadhan works with women whose children are disabled. Read one story of such a woman...
Kheema Devi is a member of the Self Help Group in Dakshinpuri Centre. She is around fifty years old and is the mother of three children Ganesh, Laxmi and Deepa. Ganesh and Laxmi are severely intellectually disabled. Kheema belongs to village Ogla in the Kumaon region at the foothills of the Himalayas. Kheema never attended any school. Her family did not want her to study and got her married to Pan Singh when she was seven and her husband was seventeen. Her husband has studied up to class five in the village school.
Khema's first child Ganesh was born when she was eighteen and Laxmi was born two years later. Initially neither Kheema nor did the family know about the disability of the children. Also Kheema's husband was away in Delhi and did not visit the family regularly. It was only when the third child, Deepa, was born Kheema's husband decided to bring the family to Dakshinpuri in South Delhi. Deepa was easily placed in the local government school. But Kheema could not admit Ganesh and Laxmi to any school because the school authorities refused to admit them because of their disability. So they both stayed at home with Kheema.
It was only when someone told her about Samadhan that Kheema brought Ganesh and Laxmi to the Rehabilitation Clinic in Dakshinpuri Centre. Both were assessed by the professional team and placed in the special education unit. Later Laxmi was sent to an organization Jan Madhyam for vocational training. She learnt to make paper bags, which helped her earn some income. Kheema and Ganesh joined the Self Help Group. Ganesh does the crucial step of soaking and pulping the newspapers which is used for making handicraft items of papier mache such as peacocks, parrots, elephants, flowers, beads etc. Both Kheema and Ganesh earn approximately Rs.1000 each. This is the only support to the family as Kheema's husband is out of a job because of poor vision and physical disability after was involved in two accidents.
Kheema has gained lot of confidence and strength over the years. All the women are given specific responsibilities in rotation, like purchase of raw materials and selling our products at the many festivals and functions where we are invited to open a stall of our products. Kheema does her share of work whenever it is her turn with great confidence. She is now a trainer and is given charge of new mothers who join the Self Help Group. Recently Kheema participated in The Big Fight, a program on the rights of people with disability organized by NDTV, an extremely popular channel and very reputed (New Delhi television) and answered questions confidently and shared her problems wit the TV audience.
Deepa, her youngest daughter is happily married and has two lovely daughters two and a half and one and half years old. Kheema agreed to her daughter's marriage although her daughter had gone against family traditions and instead of waiting for her family to find her "suitable match" had fallen in love! Kheema says that she realized that her experience of having two children with mental handicap has taught her that all persons should be "accepted " whoever they are.
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