Thank you for all your support. I'm writing to you to let you know about developments in the project over the past three months,and also to share Prina's story, one of the beneficiaries of the project.
While crossing the Mumbai Central railway bridge, a Saathi team member noticed a physically handicapped woman and began chatting with her. 25 years old, Prina said she’d arrived from Lucknow to meet a friend who lives in Mumbai. Her friend had agreed to help her obtain a government-issued certificate recognizing her disability so that she could find accommodation in an institution. The Saathi worker had many doubts about Prina’s story, but recognized she was in dire need of shelter and food and eventually convinced her to come to the shelter for a while.
The next morning, having grown a bit more confident, Prina shared her real story. 2 years ago, while pregnant, Prina suffered a paralytic attack. While the pregnancy continued unaffected, Prina never regained full use of her right side. Amidst her own difficulty in coping with her new reality, her husband became abusive. Seeking support, she left New Delhi where she had lived for eight years with her husband and went to her father’s home in Lucknow. But her father and her family are themselves impoverished and were unable to support her. When Prina returned to Delhi, she sought assistance from the local government hospital, but was turned away.
The domestic violence in her home increased and Prina was unable to find any public assistance from support systems for the physically handicapped. Frustrated, depressed and desperate, she left her husband and 2 children for Mumbai where she hoped to find the support needed to live normally as a disabled individual. Unfamiliar with the city, when she arrived at Mumbai Central Train Terminus, she didn't know what to do. IT was fortunate the Saathi worker saw her rather than someone who might have taken advantage of her.
Prina has been with Saathi for one month. Through regular counseling and case work, she is beginning to believe that she can have a meaningful life again, though the scars of verbal abuse for being physically disabled still disturb her. A physiotherapist is working with her to restore whatever mobility can be achieved and teach her to work around the paralysis as well as possible. Most of all, she is valuing the sense of belongingn and warmth she has gotten from Saathi, which she says has been missing from her life for years.
And now to turn to some news about how the project has developed:
We have seen eight girls complete their exams, with ten more attending non- formal daily classes. There has also been a new social leadership program giving the girls a platform to share and voice their opinions on issues affecting youths. In the drama sessions, the project participants have given two performances, one on personal hygiene and cleanliness and another on gender discrimination. Many girls are also working to produce glass mosaics, which not only give an opportunity for self-expression and pride, but also help to generate income for themselves.
In addition, there were changes in the system for managing individual’s progress as well as a review of the three shelters and the day care centers. This was to ensure that the spaces are fully utilized to help rebuild the lives of the individuals who come in contact with the project.
Three new girls who have suffered abuse were referred to the project.
In June, the project was visited by one of its success stories. After the death of her parents, Anjali had found herself in an abusive situation. However, with the help and support from both Saathi and a peer NGO, she is now a social worker in a reputable organization, where she is caretaker to 60 girls.