Collage of screenshots taken from video conference calls between IDI educator, rehabilitation workers, children with disabilitie

Doing what we can, where we are, with what we have

Yet again, due to the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in India, children with multiple disabilities and vision impairment (MDVI) face barriers to learning. Schools remain closed and the Perkins India’s Project IDI team, based at the Shroff Eye Hospital in Mathura, isn’t able to see the children at the hospital early intervention centre or visit them in their homes for the foreseeable future.

This doesn’t stop us. The Project IDI team knows how important it is for children with MDVI to be learning and building their skills everyday. With their unshaken determination and efforts, the team is reaching and teaching the children at home through their family members. Each family is receiving remote early intervention sessions conducted through audio or video conferencing with the Project IDI team.

And it is not only the children enrolled in our program benefitting from our outreach. All of the children we have identified through our community survey in Mathura are also being contacted by the team and counseled on precautionary measures related to COVID-19. During one of these awareness calls, a parent told Pritam, a rehabilitation worker: “We are so happy that you called us and explained what needs to be done in such detail that we were not aware of earlier. We are thankful to [the hospital] for doing this.”

Families have been overwhelmed by the Perkins team’s initiative; they are comforted to receive the outreach calls and are eager to participate in the remote sessions. Families without smartphones are guided by audio calls, or borrow smartphones from neighbors. Chaman’s grandmother, who helps Chaman participate in sessions exclaimed to Kapil, a rehabilitation worker: “We are so happy and equally excited that you are making it possible.To meet our child and support us by phone call. I will make sure to borrow a phone from my neighbour on the day you call so that we can meet on video call.”

Despite all the challenges we are facing at this unprecedented time, we firmly believe that every child should continue to learn and that every effort counts; as Teddy Roosevelt famously said, “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.”