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May 13, 2019

Support for a Better Life

“I have never seen my son sit so patiently in his wheelchair for such a long time. This chair is so comfortable for him”. Suresh’s happiness was very perceptible as he learnt how to move his son around on the new CP chair. The family had lost most of their possessions in the flood, along with the wheelchair of their 10 year old son who has cerebral palsy. Attending the ATMA Mobility Aids Assessment and Distribution camp proved to be boon for them, as the child was given a new custom-made CP chair, and the required orthotics support, to enable him to attend school with even greater comfort than earlier.

The 3rd phase of the ATMA Mobility Project was organised in March – April 2019. The assessment camp was conducted on March 21st & 22nd. 31 flood victims, who required mobility support and had lost their equipments, were assessed by the expert team from Mobility India, Bangalore. The fitting and training camp was organised from 25th – 27th April. A temporary workshop was set up at the ATMA office campus, for the orthotics & prosthetics team to work. 48 devices were provided to the 29 persons who came for the fitting – 15 wheelchairs, 4 KAFO, 9 AFO, one prosthetic limb, 1 partial foot prosthesis, 5 twin device, 2 walker, 6 knee gaiters, 2 toilet chair, 1 soft neck collar, 1 foot orthosis and 1 elbow crutch .The devices were either custom-made for each person or customised at the camp. The team also gave training to the users and their bystanders in the proper use and maintenance of the device. This ensures that each device is 100% suitable to the person’s needs, and will actually help him/her become more mobile.

The fitting camp was a touching experience. So much joy and hope were shared there.. So much love and gratitude...The joy of a parent who realises that his child can sit longer in school.. The hope of a middle aged father who is able to move on his own with the custom-made wheelchair, and, for the first time in 8 years, feels confident that he could work and earn again.. The excitement of two-year -olds when they bang on the lap-boards of their twin-device, their heads protected by its soft cushion..

For people who were already fighting the wrath of fate in the form of a long-borne disability, the flood had caused an additional burden. With the ATMA Mobility Project, we could ease this burden by one little bit, lend our shoulder for a little while, help them take a little break in their constant fight.. and our reward was there in the well-concealed tears of joy, the cautious smiles of hope, and the carefully controlled outbursts of excitement that we could glimpse in some precious moments!

And our gratitude goes out to all those anonymous, unknown donors on GlobalGiving – who, across nations, across boundaries, came out in one massive wave of support, to lend a hand to a struggling people. To you, we dedicate the ATMA Mobility Project. Every smile it brings is a gift to you alone.  

Mar 6, 2019

Celebrating Art.. Pursuing Growth..

Children enjoyed 'Kathakali' for the first time
Children enjoyed 'Kathakali' for the first time

“I never imagined that I would ever be able to understand Kathakali, let alone enjoy it!” A very excited Indraja was commenting to us, after watching a live performance of the traditional Kerala art form for 2 ½ hours straight!

The children of ATMA Gurukulam had an exciting and energising retreat at the ATMA Youth Camp, ‘Turning Point’, for 4 days during the December holidays. The camp was organised from 26th – 30th December 2018 at the Saraswathi Vidya Nikethan School at Chengamanadu, a flood-affected village, and was primarily aimed at supporting young students in flood-hit areas to overcome their trauma and build resilience. A 3-day dance festival was also organised during these days at the venue, to help the local people to relax and ease back into normal life.

The children of ATMA Gurukulam were given the opportunity to participate in the camp and the dance festival. There were sessions by expert trainers in areas like leadership, self-empowerment, goal setting and relationship building. The children also had Yoga training, games and group discussions.

The best part of the camp were the art workshops and performances. The children had the opportunity to interact with Dr Rajashree Warrier, eminent Bharatanatyam artiste, singer and writer. After watching her performance the previous day, with the accompaniment of live orchestra, the children were very excited to learn from her about the various nuances of the art form, and also about her personal journey as an artiste.

The same day, the children were also given an elaborate lecture- demonstration on Kathakali by a group of eminent artistes. For most of them, it was their first experience of this traditional art form of Kerala. That evening, the artistes gave a live full-fledged performance of Kathakali. The children were enthralled with the grace and beauty of the art, the exquisite music and the elaborate expressions. Being able to understand and enjoy something that they always thought was beyond their grasp – this gave the children a sense of great achievement and euphoria. They also greatly enjoyed the last day’s performance by Bharatnatyam artiste Ms Uma Govind.

The camp was a source of great joy and relaxation for the children – especially as many of them would go back to school in January right into the fray of board exam preparations.

On the one hand, the camp offered them great insights into self-development and achievement. On the other hand, it gave them a first-hand experience of Classical Art – its beauty, its elegance, and its ability to lift one’s soul into a realm of peace. It was their first experience of mature appreciation – a quality that will definitely help them evolve into sensitive and creative individuals.

Interaction with an eminent artiste
Interaction with an eminent artiste
'Kathakali' Lecture-Demonstration
'Kathakali' Lecture-Demonstration
Feb 11, 2019

REBUILDING LIVES

Discussion with Panchayath President
Discussion with Panchayath President

“This is the best birthday gift that God could have given me” – Santhakumari Teacher, retired educator and President of the Village Panchayath for the last 25 years, could not hide her joy, when we told her that ATMA would be ready to support some deserving families in her village to rebuild their homes. And, purely by chance, the day we met her to convey the news, was her birthday!

It was from the Global Giving network that we first learnt about an unskilled labourer in Kundur, whose house was totally damaged in the flood. Along with his wife, a bed-ridden mother-in-law, and two teenage boys, he has been taking refuge in a room behind a shop, ever since the flood took away their home on 15th August 2018. When Government officials visited, the walls were still standing. Though they cautioned him not to stay there, they could report it only as partially damaged, making him eligible only for a small compensation. Two days after the visit, the walls collapsed. In spite of their best efforts, the family cannot make good of the loss on their own. They are already burdened with the care of their aged mother, and their young son, who is under treatment.

The ATMA Team, looking out for flood victims who may be out of the Government support system, came to know of the family through the Global Giving network. Initial visits ascertained the genuineness of their need. Now, with support from the ATMA Flood Relief fund, the family has started rebuilding their house.

With help from ground-level social workers and LSG representatives like Santhakumari teacher, more such families are being identified, whose need is genuine, and for whom other sources of support are not available.

Though the focus of our relief work is Kuzhur and nearby villages like Kundur, ATMA has also been providing assistance to deserving people all over Kerala, whenever such needs have been reported. We have supported families in Alappuzha and Ernakulam for repair of partially damaged homes, and for purchasing basic amenities to restart their lives.

ATMA Team at the construction site
ATMA Team at the construction site
 
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