A hero is an individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles – Christopher Reeve
In my long journey in the social sector, I have met many heroes whose journey in life has been incredible, inspiring and awe inspiring. But nothing prepares me for my meetings with people with special needs, especially children with special needs.
My journey with Vibha is 12 years old, but Vibha’s journey with Rajasthan Mahila Kalyan Mandal (RMKM), an Ajmer (Rajasthan) based organization working with people with special needs has been much longer since 2003. Vibha supports RMKM’s programs on providing homebased rehabilitation services, employment focused vocational training, counselling, training and so much more.
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to meet so many children with special needs who have developed and progressed phenomenally in life. There are many such children over the years, but let me share the story of Khushi Kanwar from Khori village in Pushkar, Ajmer, whom I met again recently after several years during my field visit to RMKM. My name is Deep Ranjani Rai from Vibha, and I manage the RMKM project .
I first met Khushi in 2018 when I was on visit to RMKM. She lives in Khori village of Pushkar with her parents and other extended family members.
When Khushi was born in 2012 she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy which had affected her motor functions, control over her body and speech with moderate intellectual disability. She was identified and enrolled in the RMKM’s community based rehabilitation program in 2014. When I met Khushi she had been in the program for almost four years. Her initial condition was severe: she was not able to sit up by herself, and could only stand briefly with some support. She was not able to grasp objects or use her hands much. Her parents shared that Khushi was not able to recognize anyone at home or relate to them in any way and her speech impediment restricted her from articulating even the smallest of words. When I went to meet Khushi and her family, she was totally dependent on her mother and spent much of her time lying on the mat. The only difference was that she was able to recognize Bhairon Singh, the RMKM CBR worker and responded delightedly to him. She was able to stand with support.
In the four years that Khushi was in the program, intensive physiotherapy and occupational therapy was given. She also was slowly introduced to repetitive word and voice stimulation and use of various materials to enable her to develop her social and communications skills. By the time I met her this year in September, Khushi has turned 10 years old. I was amazed at the difference in her: she was able to walk albeit a few steps at a time or with support of the wall! She was so responsive to us as well.
Khushi now goes to Day Care Center in Pushkar and looks forward to going there every day. The arrival of the center’s vehicle each morning is a big excitement for her.
Her mother, couldn’t stop smiling and was delighted at the progress her daughter had made. “I am so happy that Khushi has developed so much, she is able to eat food by herself, recognizes all of us and is able to communicate her needs. She is trying to also speak words although at this moment she can only say one syllable words. I had never thought that the day would come when she would be able to walk!”
RMKM is one of the pioneer organizations in Rajasthan in the excellent work they are doing for the well being and development of persons with disability. Vibha has been partners with RMKM since 2003 and every year, every story is a source of inspiration and hope that persons with disability indeed have good chance at achieving their highest potential. Khushi’s story is only one of many!