Kapil Chaudhary and Pritam Singh start at around 8 a.m. every day to visit villages in Mathura to identify any child with a disability so that child can be connected to services that can help them and their family. With the support of the village head, local Asha/Anganwadi workers and many times just by knocking on each and every door, they have been successful in finding many children in need.
Kapil and Pritam are CBR Workers assigned to Project IDI (known in Vrindavan as Project Asha) - a joint project between Perkins India and Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital Vrindavan. Both men are new to this type of work, but have learned quickly how to connect with families and screen children for disabilities.
In their own words, they shared about Project IDI and their experiences after a few months working in the field:
What is Project IDI of Shroff-Perkins doing in Vrindavan?
This project is to identify children with disabilities in all areas of Vrindavan and Mathura. After identification, we screen and assess them for MDVI and provide intervention and treatment support.
What are your roles in the project?
Our main work is to visit all the near and far villages, speak to families and identify children with disabilities. We counsel parents that with screening and intervention their child can make improvements. We aim to support families with obtaining disability certificates and aids/appliances through various schemes whenever possible.
How many families have you met so far?
So far we have met with 3500 families.
How many children have you identified through the surveys?
So far, we have screened nearly 100 children with disabilities.
How do the families you meet react to your visits?
Most of the families that we have met get very excited and hopeful that their children will now get better. They think that we are doctors and then we explain to them that we are not doctors but part of a rehabilitation team. We further explain that we can’t promise their child will recover fully but can make a lot of improvements. Hearing that their children can improve and do things they never imagined, they get very happy.
What is the most common challenge you faced these days when in the field?
The weather conditions most of the time are not very favourable. It’s scorching heat and sometimes it rains and we get completely wet. Many times, the streets are narrow and we have to walk long stretches and puddles/uneven roads are a common sight that makes riding on the bike risky.
What is the best part about this project?
To be able to change the lives of children with MDVI giving hope to families that their children can improve, and being able to touch so many people for all the good cause. People bless us, they thank us. We return home so proud and content.
Pritam shared, “I feel extremely proud that I am a part of this noble project and I am making a difference. When we go for surveying in the villages and meet people and families, they give us blessings. People from my entire village have now started recognising me. They think highly of me and they look up to me. My family and all my relatives feel proud of me for what I do.”
As you both are from Vrindavan/Mathura, what do you want to do for this community through this work?
Through this project we want to create awareness in our entire community about Shroff, Perkins India and its project. We want to sensitise each person we meet- including our own families and relatives from far districts - that children with disabilities should be identified and given services so that they can do things that their families never imagined that they could. If they see or come across any child with disabilities they should immediately inform us so that better steps can be taken.
Kapil shared, “This is like a dream come true for me. I have always wanted to do social service for people since my childhood. Through this project I am able to do what I always intended to do. This work inspires me everyday. We meet people who have lost all hopes for their children and we talk to them, explain things to them and are able to ignite that hope again that their children can improve with our support. And that’s the best part of our job.”
What have you learned from Perkins India?
Kapil: I never thought about the fact there are so many people with disabilities especially in Mathura/Vrindavan and what their situation is like. Now through this project, I am learning that there are so many out there. There is hardly a village that we visited so far that does not have any child or person with disabilities. And there is so much that we can offer to help them.
Pritam: I learnt about the existence of so many different kinds of disabilities and how it can impact children differently.