Empower 120 differently abled kids in Tamil Nadu

by VOICE Trust
Empower 120 differently abled kids in Tamil Nadu
Empower 120 differently abled kids in Tamil Nadu
Empower 120 differently abled kids in Tamil Nadu
Empower 120 differently abled kids in Tamil Nadu
Empower 120 differently abled kids in Tamil Nadu
Empower 120 differently abled kids in Tamil Nadu
Empower 120 differently abled kids in Tamil Nadu
Empower 120 differently abled kids in Tamil Nadu
Empower 120 differently abled kids in Tamil Nadu
Empower 120 differently abled kids in Tamil Nadu
A joyful moment!
A joyful moment!

As we reported to you last time, we have been looking forward to buying hearing aids for a girl named Leena.  For months, COVID made it impossible to have her fitted for them, but her family was finally able to take her to the hospital this week and she received her new hearing aids yesterday!  I wish you could have seen the broad smile on her face when she could hear again.  I hope you are proud of what your donation helped accomplish.

We have also been saving up recent donations to buy a new wheelchair for Sanjay.  Those of you who have supported our work since we first posted this project on GlobalGiving several years ago may remember that buying Sanjay a wheelchair was the first thing we did with early donations we received.  Sanjay was 6 at the time, and had to be carried everywhere.  Two friends or family members would have to carry him on a board to get him to the nearest toilet 1 km. away.   The wheelchair made a huge difference in his life, but since he lives in a very rural area with no paved roads, it was difficult to push him over the rocks and potholes.  Eventually, the wheelchair broke.  So Sanjay is back where he started, except that now he can push himself around the house and down the street on a dustpan.

So this time we have decided to buy Sanjay a wheelchair with wheels that are designed to negotiate rough terrain.  It will be several times more expensive than a regular wheelchair, but it will last him the rest of his life.  Your donations have taken us a good part of the way to being able to afford it.  We will let you know when we've purchased it.

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Eleven-year-old Leena has been denied the opportunity for a full life because she needs a better hearing aid than her parents can afford.   She cannot actively participate in her classes or interact with her friends.  Her struggle to keep up with her schoolwork and her social isolation have taken a huge emotional toll on her.

The generous donations we have received for this project provided us enough money to buy Leena the hearing aids she needs, and we had been talking with her parents and the hospital about getting them for her when the recent surge of COVID cases in India hit.  So unfortunately, for now, she cannot safely be fitted for them.  Indeed, for now, we have closed down all our field activities.

But we are looking forward to the day -- hopefully in a month or two -- when COVID is again under control.  When Leena's family is able to safely open their door again, our team will be there to open her world.

Until then, please stay safe yourself, and reach out to help others in whatever way you can. 

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Mr Donald, a beneficiary of Mrs Victoria's work
Mr Donald, a beneficiary of Mrs Victoria's work

Despite having herself contracted COVID-19, Mrs. Victoria, our coordinator of activities for the People with Disabities (PwD), has continued to be dedicated to improving their lives throughout the pandemic.  Last month, she took seven mentally challenged individuals to hospital for treatment, and she has begun training PwD in income-generating activities like candle making and threadwork design.  She was also the chief guest at an event organized to share information about how PwD can collect the government-related benefits available to them.  

And thanks to her help, we are able to report another success story:

Mr. Donald was stricken by polio when he was 4 and his right leg was permanently affected.  He used a walking stick to attend school and was able to complete his 12th standard in.  But was not able to study further due to the circumstances in his family's straitened circumstances and his difficulty using public transport. His parents were worried about whether he would ever be able t support himself.  

Through the Mobility India Scheme, Mrs. Victoria was able to get him an artificial leg, and gave him the assistance he needed to complete a Computer Science course in Open University.  Today, he works in a computer centre in Thillai Nagar and earns enough to not only support himself but help his parents and sister.

Your donations have helped fund Victoria's work, and we are deeply grateful for your support.

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Although our progress toward empowering differently abled children has been limited by a lack of funding,  Voice Trust remains hopeful as we continue to leverage our talented staff to improve the lives of people with disabilities in Tamil Nadu.  

New Grant Application to Ensure Livelihoods

In connection with prior initiatives, Voice Trust has successfully trained over 50 differently abled adults to create in-demand products.  However, people with disabilities—who often face mobility limitations—are frequently unable to sell their wares, and therefore unable to support themselves.  Voice Trust staff have been hard at work completing a grant application that would enable these previously trained individuals to sell goods online, integrating them into the supply chain via internet marketplaces.  If the grant application is successful, a full-time program manager will oversee the initiative, helping to ensure a stable livelihood for this vulnerable group.

Care Coordination and Community Advocacy

Voice Trust field staff member Victoria has continued her unrelenting commitment to support differently abled people in Tamil Nadu.  She coordinates medical care for the mentally ill, and personally escorts patients to hospitals and appointments.  She has continued this important work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, save for a few weeks where she herself was ill with coronavirus.  Victoria also continues to make monthly visits to the District Differently Abled Welfare Office in Trichy.  She communicates with officials to get the most up to date information regarding government programs for people with disabilities, and then travels around to smaller villages in the district to share any helpful information.  Through Victoria’s efforts, thousands of people with disabilities have gained access to benefits they may never have learned about, but for her tireless community advocacy.

In Tamil Nadu, the differently abled and their families face a constant struggle.  Kids with disabilities that might be easily accommodated in wealthier places remain without wheelchairs, crutches, and hearing aids.  These devices could open the door to educational opportunities, and provide housebound, reliant young people with independence and dignity they have never known.  Voice Trust has knowledgeable staff on the ground, ready to put your donations toward doing the greatest  possible good.  If you are unable to make an additional gift to support this project, if you could share this giving opportunity on social media with anyone who might be able to help, it could transform a child’s life forever.

Warmly,

Janet Preethi

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Greetings --

I hope you have been managing ok and staying strong during the pandemic, which has had a devastating effect on Tamil Nadu.  Many farmers, roadside vendors and beggars, daily-wage workers -- even sex workers -- have seen their income evaporate, and have been struggling to survive. 

Luckily,  several generous grants received with the assistance of Friends of the Third World, an awesome response from our GlobalGiving supporters, and the aid of our devoted and heroic volunteers have made it possible for us to provide rice and groceries to feed 900 families in need for a month, and support from local partners further enabled us to provide at least a biscuit and often a hot meal to many more who would have otherwise have had nothing to eat for the day.

For the differently abled and their families, this time has been especially trying, since their options were already severely limited.  Because of our outreach efforts to identify these families, our relief efforts were able to include emergency rations for the households of 208 differently abled people in Siruganur, C.R. Palayam, Tirupattur, M.R. Palayam, Sanamangalam, Sridevimangalam, and Maniyakurichi.

Of course there is much left to do, and we have been scrambling to find the funds to do it.  Please view our GlobalGiving COVID-19 relief project for more information and an opportunity to donate, if you can.

Although all our staff have been stretched thin trying to keep up, we have not lost sight of problems for the differently abled looming on the horizon.  While schools are shut down, children from wealthier families have had the digital resources and parental support to keep from falling too far behind in their studies, but differently abled children from resource-poor families may not have previously even been able to attend school, or had trouble keeping up if they did, widening still further the ever-growing gap between the haves and have-nots.

We know from our outreach that the 120 kids who would be helped by this project -- and in particular the three kids who would be helped by our new microproject -- are just a small fraction of Trichy's differently abled.  But helping just one child at a time get ready to attend school when it reopens in the fall is the first step in the never-ending journey towards equal opportunity for all.

We hope you'll join us along the way.  Even if you can't do more than just share our project on social media, we are always deeply grateful for whatever help you can offer.

Take care --

Janet Preethi

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Organization Information

VOICE Trust

Location: Tiruchirpalli, Tamil Nadu - India
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @VOICETrichy
Project Leader:
Janet G. Preethi
Tiruchirpalli, Tamil Nadu India
$1,354 raised of $5,000 goal
 
20 donations
$3,646 to go
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