In a small tea shop, near the Shroff Eye Hospital in Vrindavan, sits 10-year old Shiva. He sits, while his parents tend to customers. Shiva doesn’t walk or see well. But he is a curious boy who wants to learn.
A few years ago due to economic scarcity and in search of work, Shiva’s parents migrated to Mathura from their home village. Today they run a small tea stall that they started close to the Eye Hospital.
Shiva’s parents knew he needed help, but didn’t know where to turn. They worried that even if they found help, they wouldn’t be able to pay. That is when a fortunate event changed the story for them and for Shiva.
One day, a few members of Perkins’ Project Identification and Intervention (IDI) team went to the family’s shop and saw Shiva sitting there. They immediately noticed that he had challenges with his vision and movement. They talked to Shiva’s parents and heard their story. The team informed them about Project IDI, a collaborative program with Perkins India and Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital, that provides services to children with vision impairment and multiple disabilities – children just like Shiva. The team encouraged them to bring him to the Early Intervention Center so that the Project IDI team could evaluate Shiva and begin helping him. Shiva’s parents were thrilled!
The initial screening revealed that Shiva, in fact, did have refractive errors in both eyes and had cognitive and motor delays. He received eyeglasses and was enrolled in the program as a child with MDVI, multiple disabilities and vision impairment. The family only needed to pay what they could, and if they weren’t able to pay, the services were free.
When Amrita Sharma, a special education teacher and member of the Project IDI team, started working with Shiva, she found that Shiva loves books. According to Sharma, “Whenever we show any book to him, he gets very excited and starts to doodle with pen and colored pencils on paper.” Now that he can see more clearly and is learning to better use his vision, he is able to enjoy the pleasure of books and experience emerging literacy. Again, his parents were thrilled.
Shiva continued learning new things from his teachers until one day, he didn’t show up at the Center. The team was worried. They called and finally went to the family home where they found Shiva’s parents tending to a sibling who was very ill. They could not spare the time or energy to bring Shiva to his sessions at the Center because they had to work and tend to the shop. His teacher’s knew what they needed to do.
The Project IDI team began visiting Shiva and teaching him at the tea shop. There, his parents were able to observe the lessons so that they could reinforce the concepts at home. This allowed them to balance their work, care for their sick child and encourage Shiva to keep learning and thriving.
This is not the end of the story; it is only the beginning for Shiva and so many children like him who are now on the path to learning because of the persistence and dedication of the professionals from the Perkins India and Shroff Eye Hospital Project IDI team.