: Home for Handicapped Girls
In developing countries or areas, the majority of children with disabilities live in poverty and ignorance. In rural areas access to specialized services of any sort is rare, especially medical and educational.
Many children with disabilities do not attend school because their families think it is a burden to transport them there, and they believe they will not amount to anything.
Currently there are a few adult polio-victim women who simply need a safe and loving environment. The goal is to help the girls be comfortable, clean, safe, and well-fed. Helpers assist them with daily exercises to prevent further deformity. Upon entry, each girl is evaluated for both disabilities and possibilities, after which a plan is created to best help her develop skills that will lead to increased independence.
In 1991 Share and Care opened a home in a Chennai slum for girls who have had polio, and who are unable to integrate into mainstream society.
The girls come from various situations; some are orphans, some unwanted at home, some abandoned, and some have parents who work during the day and are unable to care for her.
An important part of
the programme is training in a skill which will provide
at least some income. The girls work with a master craftsman
who teaches them to create images from straw on paper
Initially drawn by the master, the girls do the fine
needle work that turns them into mini works of art.
The cards and wall hangings
are sold both to private customers and in government
outlets. With the money collected from the sales, the
girls receive a salary based on their skill level and
Some of the girls earn
more than 2000 rupees (US$46.50) a month; they enjoy buying
things like jewellery, cosmetics, and clothes.
Those who have parents or grandparents usually send some of
the money home, which makes them a contributing and valued member
of the family. One mother related that her healthy son could
not support her, but much to her surprise her handicapped daughter,
whom she thought was useless, now takes care of her.
When the home began there were about five to ten polio-affected children (numbers fluctuate according to personal circumstances); now there are about thirty girls living there, aged 15-40.
One young woman has her infant daughter with her, while another is deaf and mute. The girls have blossomed at Anbalaya. In addition to formal learning, like the straw art, the girls discover how to participate fully in a shared living environment.
Where once they were considered
only a burden, some of the polio-affected girls are
now benefactors for their own appreciative families.
The girls’ self-esteem skyrockets, they become as independent
as possible, proud of their accomplishments, and interested
in the world around them.
Some of them begin to think
of marriage, and at least one marriage has successfully
taken place.Funding for Anbalaya comes from the general
Share and Care accounts.
At least one young woman,
Maria, is now being sponsored privately, and there is hope that
more individuals will step forward to help this programme thrive.