Reaching children with the helping hand of ASHAs

“There is a great awareness amongst people in the community with regards to children with disabilities. There is a great attitudinal change towards children with disabilities and several children with disabilities are being identified. Even the people in the community are showing their willingness to support the IDI team,” says Ms. Mithlesh Devi as she reflects on the changes she has seen in her community since Perkins India and partner organization Jayati Bharatam brought Project Identification and Intervention (IDI) into the area.

Ms. Devi’s efforts have greatly supported the success of Project IDI in identifying children who have multiple disabilities with a vision impairment (MDVI) in the community so they can be connected to the services they need. Ms. Devi has been an Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) for 14 years in the Gosaiganj Block of Lucknow, primarily charged with tracking maternal and child health and encouraging health-seeking behaviours in the community.

The IDI team met Ms. Devi when they first visited the Gram Pradhan (village head) in Gosaiganj. Immediately after learning about the project, she introduced the IDI team to some families of children who she thought might have a vision impairment and other disabilities. When the IDI teamed screened the children, Ms. Devi provided support and observed the process of screening. With this new exposure to the screening process, Ms. Devi learned what the IDI team was looking for and she guided them to the houses of even more children with disabilities in the village.

Since then she has been a valuable resource to Project IDI in her community and has even involved her fellow ASHA colleagues in supporting the IDI team members in identifying and screening children with disabilities.

Coordinator and CBR worker explaining to Mithlesh Devi (ASHA worker) about screening process.

Ms. Devi understands the significant impact that Project IDI can have for families. She expressed, “the IDI team is not only doing screening of children with disabilities in the villages but are also helping families in providing guidance to make Aadhaar card [unique identification card] for the children who don’t not have that and guiding families to get disability certificate and availing the benefits from the government schemes.” She and her colleagues are committed to spreading awareness in the village, working with parents and providing any additional support so that the children identified can access any health-related services they need.

Screening for Project IDI has moved on from the villages where Ms. Devi works, but dedication continues. She is now ready to be a resource for families of children with disabilities in the villages she serves and knows how to connect them to Project IDI so they can get the help they need.