In the world of hope

By Maj Gen (Retd) KM Balsara
Saturday, 10 March 2018

Spreading hope is not through giving the basics of life. Spreading hope is including the disabled into life – into education and into employment.

Imagine your body almost paralysed but your soul, mind and heart intact! Welcome to the world of multiple disabilities. Here, hope for a more dignified existence makes you fight to survive and be included in society.

The statistics are alarming. Those affected with multiple disabilities form a disturbing number of the populace. Hidden statistics, which are best not publicised. People who the governments and society and many parents and relatives want to keep away from public glare.

Cerebral palsy or CP is not an illness, which can be cured. It is a condition, which has to be endured while ensuring that the functional senses are enhanced. There is so much bottled up in these people - intense emotions and desires. Often not expressed. They feel like us - but mostly they feel in loneliness!

But, in this world of ours, there are islands and oasis of hope. Some people of God, who provide the much-needed succour to the disabled. They are the Messiahs - some poor, some rich, some learned and some uneducated - but all with one desire, “Let’s spread hope.” Spreading hope is not through giving the basics of life. Spreading hope is including the disabled into life – into education and into employment.

I work for one such leading organisation called ADAPT (Abled Disabled All People Together) formerly called the Spastics Society of India. Here we do not just sustain the disabled, we provide them with the will and skills to sharpen their positives and ensure that they are educated along with the abled and learn professional skills so that they are employed along with the abled. Inclusive education and inclusive employment!

So, what happens to a disabled person when the person arrives at or is brought to ADAPT?

The person is first assessed by one of our teams of social workers. The social worker gets the background of the person by intense interactions with the disabled person and the parents and family and neighbours. Having set the base, the group moves to one of our teams of psychologists. Now is the evaluation, which studies the hidden personality content. That done, the group moves to one of our teams of physiotherapists, who evaluates the remaining motor skills and methods to sharpen those as also revive those that can be. Here, the initial assessment is over.

The team of a social worker, psychologist and physiotherapist then confabulate with a team leader and decide the best method of intervention. This is individualised and consists of study/education, skill development and required psychoanalysis and therapy sessions. Together with this, a regime of soft skills (including living skills) and extracurricular activities is built in. Those showing potential are placed into normal schools for inclusive education and society penetration.

Research and developing modules of training is a major portion of our work. These spread around the globe and affect countless people. We are not in the numbers game. Ours is a roulette of hope!

Assessment and planned and systematic interventions are cyclic and feed on each other to create a productive disabled person!

We then canvass the corporates to analyse their requirement and build the same into the individualised training plan.

A placement is a milestone for us! It is akin to giving birth! But our activity does not stop there. We buddy the employed disabled to ensure his productivity as also acceptance by his colleagues through sensitisation programmes.

We also advocate for the disabled with corporate bodies, state and Central governments and interact with international bodies.

We do much more than what is stated here. It is almost like being back in a well run Army Frontline Division. Values and principles are the same - saving lives and fighting the menace. I have never worked in a more dedicated manner than I’m at present! And, having spent 45 years in uniform and 37 as an officer in the Indian Army, that is some level of involvement. There is so much to do - I feel inadequate but elated and I sleep at peace! 

Whenever I feel overwhelmed at work, I go to a group of disabled and sit quietly and watch them. I imagine as to whether I would ever have the strength to contest the odds that they are doing; in such an obviously loaded contest. Then, suddenly one of them will smile and preen (God only knows why?) and I will find my hope rekindled - and go back to attempt my chores more vigorously.

God has given me so much. Why has He taken from them? Because He loves us and has sent the disabled across to educate us abled. I have hope! Something that I would like to bless all my relatives, friends and colleagues with. God bless you.

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