Story

Removing barriers to dependency: A child-centric approach

Lavi’s story is incredibly powerful for a six-year-old child with multiple disabilities and vision impairment. She was identified during a door-to-door screening in 2020.

Lavi is giving her mother a handful of yellow petals. Both mother and daughter are very happy at this exchange.

From a secluded life at home, Lavi transformed into a vibrant little girl, stepping up to do the things she loves doing – be it playing with her younger brother or other classmates, painting, coloring, ringing the temple bell, or joining her mother on small visits. She spends considerable time at a specialized reading table she received from Perkins India and holds close to her heart toys, colors, pencils, a school bag and other items she has received as part of her education.

Lavi is totally immersed in playing with balls of different textures. While doing so she learns about the shape, size, and texture of the ball. Her teacher guides her by holding her hands.
Lavi is smiling sweetly as her teacher guides her to hold the ball in the cup of her hands.

Lavi regularly visits the Perkins India-supported community intervention centre after her enrolment in  2021.  Her teachers, who have been trained by Perkins India’s team of expert educators, visit her at home twice a month. These visits play a great role in establishing a particular routine at home, which creates an encouraging climate for Lavi to get involved in activities at home.  Regular physiotherapy and exercises are also part of Lavi’s intervention program. This transformation is a continuous process that is playing out with intervention support from Perkins India’s intervention team at Jayati Bharatam.

Lavi with her mother.
Lavi peeled an onion to help her mother for cooking.

Initially I was worried about Lavi; ever since she started receiving regular intervention … I see great progress. I can now proudly say that my child is learning.

Anju Devi, Lavi’s Mother

Lavi’s best friend-cum-caregiver – her mother Anju Devi – reminiscences on the emotional turbulence during her early years. For a child who loved to be a part of activities but not being able to was deeply frustrating. The Perkins India team suggested a clinical vision assessment to begin with, to understand the depth of the challenges and tailor the learning accordingly. The reading helped the team to prepare the right program for Lavi to start her formal classroom journey.

Lavi finds it difficult to identify the toys at times, and needs to smell them for identification. She gets upset if she loses sight of the toys while playing. But these are small concerns in the brighter framework of her overall transformation. Reflecting on her daughter’s growth, Anju Devi says, “Initially I was worried about Lavi; ever since she started receiving regular intervention … I see great progress. I can now proudly say that my child is learning.” With great improvement in her social skills, Lavi now happily pitches in, helping her mother with simple chores at home. Her mother believes in keeping her engaged and gets her to help in small household jobs.

Variety of icons representing food staples and dry rations.

Addressing every need

Lavi and her family have received two nutritional kits — one during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and second one through Perkins India’s partnership with IndusInd Bank, Ltd. The kits consist of a variety of food staples like dal, oil, milk powder, rice, sugar, biscuits, and Vitamin D.

Responding to change

Lavi enjoys her time at the intervention center, where she gets involved in multiple activities. Lavi has a level playing field, a far cry from the secluded life she had led earlier. Her teacher, Arti, helps her develop natural interests like making salads, arranging a bunch of flowers or joining in activities like celebrating festivals, listening to rhymes, stories, and participating in sports. Her teacher Arti says, “I feel a great sense of accomplishment when I see Lavi doing various activities on her own. I thank God for giving me the opportunity to work with children.”

Lavi’s family has great reasons to cheer.  From a quiet and irritable child, she is blooming into a caring, curious little girl. Her mother Anju Devi also feels empowered as she meets and interacts with teachers and parents of other children. She has also gone a step further, expressing her desire to learn to read and write so that she can help Lavi with her homework.  She has started with basic ‘read and write’ lessons at the center tutored by parents and teachers.

Lavi in regular school with her teacher Arti.

I feel a great sense of accomplishment when I see Lavi doing various activities on her own.

Arti, Lavi’s teacher

A new high for Lavi, her family and teacher is her admission to a regular school. Perkins India believes in the power of inclusive education as a major step to provide equal opportunities for every child. Inclusive schools provide the right climate to take everyone along life’s journey.

According to plan, it was decided that Lavi would attend school along with her teacher from the intervention team. The ideas was to introduce her to the new environment, enable her to make friends, and continue to learn and grow. Lavi’s mother and teacher are fully cognizant of challenges she may face as she tries to cope with curriculum in higher classes, but they believe she should attend school regularly to socialize with children her age and grow up in an inclusive space.

Icon of identification card.

Addressing every need

As a child with low vision and multiple disabilities Lavi is eligible for appropriate certificates from the Government. The intervention team has been instrumental in helping arrange national IDs, income and domicile certificates, and most importantly a disability certificate for Lavi that will further support her access to education and other government services.

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