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Background

Makhla Muktadhara Rehabilitation Centre for the Disabled [MMRCD] has been working since 1998 to address issues related to disabled children and their rehabilitation within society. Having begun with programs in a few select villages in one Panchayat, today Makhla works in 109 villages spread across 16 Panchayats and 1 Municipality under 3 Blocks. The Project Holder, Malay Kumar Sen, is an experienced development worker in the field of disability and related issues. Through his efforts, he has established strong working links with the local government and non-government institutions. He has also developed technical expertise in the area of disability and addressing community rehabilitation issues. The aim of the intervention is to create a disabled-friendly environment where distinctions between people with disabilities (PWDs) are eliminated, the disabled are mainstreamed into the community and the rights of children with disabilities (CWDs) are restored.

Situation

Disability is closely linked with exclusion and poverty. Not only are the disabled segregated because of their disability, but the segregation and inequity increases in case of the poor. The poor are not able to access quality treatment, or adequate education or the knowledge base to demand their rights from the government. Women with disability face different social stigmas in comparison with men, who also face stigmas because they become economic burdens. The disabled are often gauged as non-productive or incompetent, lie outside the family system and economic system. If an additional layer of caste is added, then the degree of being treated as outcastes becomes worse.

Looking at policy aspects, the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) by and large do not include disabled children. There are scattered pockets along the length and breadth of the country where a disabled child can be found within an ICDS run program. Late detection and lack of follow up of disability further aggravates the situation. The government passed the People’s with Disabilities Act in 1994 which covers issues of integrated education, vocational training, employment, housing and leisure activities. The Act covers almost all problems related to the disabled; however there are no legal commitments or redress mechanisms for ensuring these rights. This continues to be a serious advocacy issue.

The project covers 46 revenue villages of 8 Gram Panchayats of 3 blocks of Hooghly District. Comparing data on the incidence of disability in the area, one finds a very high incidence of loco motor disability, high incidence of hearing handicap in Dankuni (an entirely industrial area) and high incidence of orthopedic handicap in Monoharpur and Naity villages. The people of the operational area are mostly dependent on agriculture and allied activities as their source of livelihood. Since it is mostly single cropping, agriculture does not support the life system fully. Hence, a majority of the people are poor. Low income and poverty prevailing in the area happens to be a major reason for malnutrition, resulting in malnourished pregnant women giving birth to under-weight babies who grow up with disabilities.

Objectives

  • To establish sustained Panchayat support towards addressing the issues of the disabled at the village level.
  • To empower children and adults with disabilities through collective action to ensure their basic entitlements.
  • To sustain campaigns and processes for facilitating birth certificates, ration cards, handicapped certificates for the affected – all to ensure proper legal identity of the disabled community.
  • To strengthen the Health & ICDS system & processes in the delivery of quality services to children with disabilities.
  • Ensure inclusive and quality education to CWDs in ICDS Centers and Schools.
  • Ensure protection from physical and mental abuse, injury, maltreatment and economic exploitation by involving peer groups, parents’ groups, activist groups, panchayat members, government officials, the Police and the Media.

Review and Impact


Besides activities to directly benefit CWDs and PWDs, MMRCD focused on strengthening the local network of Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and like minded NGOs working on the issue of disability, linking up with various State level alliances and networks to voice this issue, develop further understanding of the issue and related government provisions and legislations. The aim of forming the District Network was also to merge the Network with the Disabilities Activist Forum and the WBEN for larger Policy Advocacy and movement building on disability rights in the larger ambit of child rights and human rights. Another focus area has been the sensitization of and networking with the Police and the Media on issues related to disability for larger advocacy in the process of realizing disability rights.

In the period of CRY support, MMRCD has proved its credibility around working towards mainstreaming people with disabilities, taking up disability issues in larger forums and in establishing child rights in the light of disability rights. The organization has been able to garner support from the locality by sensitizing the communities on the disability issue.

  • 56 CWDs obtained birth certificates.
  • 120 CWDs obtained Disability Certificates and Identity Cards.
  • 138 CWDs were mainstreamed into formal schools.
  • 38 ICDS centers, 74 primary schools and 26 high schools were reactivated to ensure appropriate services for the affected.
  • 158 CWDs were provided with therapeutic help .
  • 80 children were provided support through special schooling.
  • 45 community groups were formed with parents of CWD’s as well as other care givers for strengthening community action on the issue of disability.

Plans

The following are the broad plans of Janarth for this year:
  • Ensuring that children with disabilities get necessary documents [birth certificates, disability certificates, ration cards] and services.
  • Inclusion of children with disabilities into the ICDS Centers, Primary and Secondary schools and sustaining the children in Schools through community collective action.
  • Sustaining & strengthening Panchayat level core groups involving parents, PWDs, the family members of the CWDs, Gram Unnayan Samity members, ICDS workers and local community members.
  • Orientation of Panchayat members on issues of disability and mobilize them to allocate funds for addressing these issues in their annual budget.
  • Organize the Individual Home Package (IHP) at houses involving parents and care-givers.
  • Organize the Group Package Program (GPP) at activity units involving parents group, core groups, DPO group members in Chanditala II operational area.
  • Mapping and recording of the development of particular cases by their care givers.
  • Ensure that the Panchayat, Teachers Union, Panchayat Samity and government officials take the necessary steps to strengthen the quality of education in schools for CWDs.
  • Campaigns by the community on protection issues in general and disability issues in particular.

ANNUAL FINANCIAL SUMMARY

  • Right to Development
    $4,453
  • Right to Survival
    $4,358
  • Right to Protection
    $4,215
  • Administration
    $6,063
  • Total Annual Grant Approved
    $19,089