Showing posts with label Mentally Challenged. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mentally Challenged. Show all posts

Thursday, October 31, 2013

An inclusive parent cooperative providing jobwork to young adults with mental challenges

Working to make a difference

The Anchorage, a parent cooperative that provides jobwork for trained mentally challenged adults, is celebrating its 25th year

In a workshop housed in an office building along busy Mahalaxmi, a group of trained adults are packing and assembling itemsfor jobwork. They are all mentally challenged, in different waysand to varying degrees. 

These are people who have been schooled and vocationally trained at a special school, and are now channelling their skills productively.

This year is a very special 25th-year celebration at The Anchorage. When we heard the name, we wondered whether it was the same organisation that ran the scandal-plagued orphanage in South Mumbai. But the name is merely an unfortunate coincidence. This Anchorage is a sheltered workshop where mentally challenged adults can work and be productive, from 9.30am to 4pm every Monday to Friday.

The Anchorage was started in 1989 by a group of five parents and a special educator. Children of all the founder-members were in Sadhana School, a special school in South Mumbai. They would graduate at the age of 18, and the question uppermost for the parents was, “What next?” This concern, as well as a fear of their children’s regression, led the parents to look for viable options. So, with the help of a special educator, the idea of setting up a workshop was born. The main purpose was to provide vocational training and arrange for appropriate jobwork. Now, 25 years later, The Anchorage is a flourishing “parents’ cooperative”, providing holistic serves to 30 mentally challenged members, and is housed in its own office premises at Mahalaxmi. One of its staunch supporters is the actor Nandita Das, who attended the 25th anniversary celebrations and is involved regularly in the organisation’s activities.

It has been a long and at times arduous journey, but the motivation was strong, and the parents’ zeal unflagging. Founder trustee Swarupa Modi recalls, “Ours was the first batch. My son had Down’s Syndrome, and there were other parents. Our major concern was that after graduation you can’t just keep them at home. They had schooling and vocational training which was carefully thought out by the school.”

The members first began taking in jobwork and using each others’ homes as a work base. But as Ms Modi says, “the atmosphere at home was not like a workplace”. The solution came from a former Sadhana School staffer, whose house had a garage in which the driver slept at night. By day, this became the Anchorage’s workshop, their first official workplace.

“By now we were a registered trust and society,” recalls Ms Modi. “The seed was sown and watered, and began to grow. We had two jobs — finishing of sequences where the plastic burr was clipped off, and toothbrush packing. Now they had a workplace to go to. They had to be on time, take their lunchbox, work and come back in the evening. Five parents and all of us had to devote a day to supervise the work and lay the folding tables and chairs.”

But hurdles of all sorts cropped up -- for example, when the first woman joined the workshop, there was no proper toilet for her use. The Anchorage then moved to a room with an attached toilet, in another building. Subsequently, in 2001, the Government of Japan made a donation that was large enough, along with contributions from individual parents and other donors, for The Anchorage to move into its own premises in a reputed corporate building at E Moses Road, Mahalaxmi. A few years later a second, smaller unit was opened in Colaba, donated by a trustee’s family.

Ms Modi explains that the type of work done at The Anchorageaims to enhance the workers’ skills as well as produce goods. “A policy decision was taken to do only jobwork and not go into manufacturing,” she says. “The material we brought to the workshop was scrutinized and it was identified where over 30 per cent of the work would be done by our adults. This type of work not only enhanced their self-confidence but was therapeutic in their eye-hand coordination, and stimulating large and fine motor coordination.” She adds, “Quality control standards are stringent and we havea list of very satisfied clients, ensuring a regular monthly salaryfor all.”

The Workshop
The workshop functions Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 4pm, and the day’s schedule, besides jobwork, includes fruit and lunch breaks, physical exercise sessions and also individual training and stimulation activities. The environment at the workshop is vibrant and cheerful, and there is a strong adult-staff relationship. The workshop is clean and hygienically maintained, with colourful posters, wall hangings and paintings done by members on the walls. The workshop today has 30 adults, a staff of 10 and a volunteer strength of 15.

Receiving and successfully completing job work contracts is the core task of the workshop. It comprises getting the raw material from the supplier and returning the finished product at a pre-determined price. Making and selling of products at exhibitions and sales is the ancillary activity. The 30 members, who come in every day, neat, clean and well groomed, perceive themselves as office-going individuals. They are trained to complete industrial job work efficiently and effectively.

Contracts undertaken by the Anchorage:
  • Assembling switches and sockets
  •  Packing of crayons
  • Packing medical kits
  • Packing hotel housekeeping products like dental kits, shaving kits, shower caps and combs
  • Packing a monthly women’s magazine
  • Making paper bags
  • Making paper national flags

How can you help?
Those wishing to help The Anchorage may do so with money, time, or by arranging job contracts. Donations are exempt under section 80G of the IT Act. Like-minded parent groups may also seek help from The Anchorage to start similar services for young adults.

Phone: +91 22 2493 6346, +91 77388 60420, +91 22 22824322

Friday, August 31, 2012

Death toll 228 at Asha Kiran since 2005, unabated

Dear Colleagues,

Those of you who work with person with multiple disabilities have seen them living ordinary life if given proper medication for epilepsy and care. However, there is utter chaos at Asha Kiran centre where no one want to take the blame for the deaths which are happening in the Govt. run institution. The centre says it is the severe mental retardation and epileptic fits that is leading to deaths while the court appointed committee and any person involved or with experience in caring for a person with multiple disabilities would say that it is unhygienic conditions, lack of medical facilities and mismanagement at the Asha Kiran which is resulting in avoidable deaths. Human life doesn't seem to have a value here.

I wanted to share a personal experience of one and half year back. One day on my way to work, I suddenly saw, a person with mental disability roaming on the ring road and then sitting under a flyover. I really got worried about his life and always thought some day some vehicle might strike him down and I thought of admitting him to the state run centres where he will be cared. Sooner, I realised the pathetic condition of the Centres that we are discussing here, I decided not to even think that way. I consulted several of my friends who expressed that this person may live a better, safe and longer life under a flyover than a State run Centre and that I should stop thinking of making efforts to have him shifted to a "safer" place like Asha Kiran.

Today after more than one and half year, when I continue to see him every day at the same place while on way to work, I feel how mistaken I was. He is at least happy & safe here and leading his life though with help from passer byes. I am sure if I had decided otherwise, I wouldn't see him alive!

Here is the news from Hindustan Times of 31st Aug 2012 giving you the update:

At Asha Kiran, 228 inmates have died since 2005

The Delhi government has admitted that 228 deaths have taken place at Asha Kiran, the Capital’s lone home for mentally challenged children and adults, since 2005. In an affidavit filed recently before the Delhi High Court hearing a PIL complaining of lack of medical care and shockingly  unhygienic conditions at the home in Rohini, the Delhi government said 59 inmates died in 2005-06, 28 in 2006-07, 34 in 2007-08, 37 in 2008-09, 46 in 2009-10, 11 in 2010-11 and 13 in 2011-July 2012.

During a hearing on August 8, the court had slammed the government for the inhuman manner in which the inmates were kept at the home and termed it the "worst kind of human rights violation". The court was perusing a report submitted by a court-appointed committee which inspected the premises of the welfare home.

Expressing shock at the revelation of 228 deaths, human rights activist and a member of the court-appointed committee Colin Gonsalves said: "This figure is high but the government feels it is low. They thought that by stating it on an affidavit it would save them before the court. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has repeatedly said deaths were taking place at the home due to negligence."

A bench of acting chief justice AK Sikri and justice RS Endlaw is to take a stand on the issue on Friday. The government denied the deaths were due to negligence and mismanagement. "Biological factors play a major role in high mortality rates among the mentally-challenged persons. A large number of inmates at Asha Kiran fall in the categories of severe and profound mental retardation with multiple disabilities and suffering from epileptic fits. Studies show that such types of individual keep very shortened life expectancy," the government said.

DP Bharal, deputy director with the department of social welfare, said in an affidavit: "From 59 deaths in 2005-2006, the same has come down to 13 in 2011-12. None of the deaths occurred due to negligence. The inmates who died were extreme cases of mental retardation or having chronic medical ailments."

Friday, February 19, 2010

Now some "Action Plan" to set things right at Asha Kiran

Dear Friends,

This is subsequent to my earlier posts on continued deaths of inmates at Asha Kiran - A Govt. Run home for Intellectually challenged persons. Now after several deaths in a row and mass agitation by Civil Society, finally Delhi Government seems to have woken up to the mess that has been created at the Govt. run home for the Intellectually Challenged persons. This indicates that persons with disabilities with no family support are not the priority of the Government. 

I have three major objections to this process:

(a)  It is surprising to know that no civil society organisations/stakeholders were invited to the meeting.
(b)  Secondly appointing contractual employees in these centres will not improve the conditions unless they are given decent wages.
(c) Thirdly though the Delhi Govt has admitted lapses on the part of authorities, there is no criminal action on the persons responsible indicating how Delhi Govt. values lives of persons with disabilities!
(d) The whole process of managing the action plan seems to be medically oriented with Doctors treating the patients! There is no rehabilitation professional involvement nor is any thing being discussed to ensure their social political rights, Right to education for children under 18 years, vocational training etc.

I wonder whether the thought process in the political class has undergone any change in light of  India proudly signing UNCRPD ! There is no doubt that  involving civil society, National Trust and Rehabilitation Professionals will give more credibility to the Government's action plan and the Government should seriously consider this for in absence of this and given the past expereince, we might see the condition of these homes "back to Square one"!

Here is the coverage from Zee News and Times of India on the subject.

SC Vashishth, Advocate

Delhi Govt. Brings Action Plan : Zee News

New Delhi: Under attack for a spate of deaths at an observation home run by it for the mentally challenged, Delhi Government on Wednesday came out with a time-bound action plan to ensure proper care and medical facilities for the inmates.

As per the action plan, some of the over 700 inmates at the Asha Kiran Home would be transferred to three buildings within next two months to decongest the existing home so that each mentally challenged child get proper care and attention.

The Government also decided to deploy well-equipped ambulances and upgrade other infrastructure at the home which witnessed 26 deaths in the last five months. Two inmates had died last week while one breathed his last on Monday.

The action plan was finalised at a high-level meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and attended by Finance Minister A K Walia, Social Welfare Minister Mangat Ram Singhal, Health Minister Kiran Walia and Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta, besides several top officials.

The meeting decided to initiate a series of short-term and long-term measures to overcome existing deficiencies at the home. The home is being maintained by the Social Welfare department.

Yesterday, Dikshit had admitted lapses on the part of authorities and said over 700 inmates were staying at the home against the sanctioned strength of 300.

In the meeting, it was also decided to appoint more attendants on contract basis to ensure proper care of the children.

"To overcome the situation of over-crowding in the Home, it was decided to shift inmates to three other existing buildings, which are being upgraded," an official said.

He said an expert team of the doctors will guide the authorities to shift the inmates. The meeting also decided to appoint separate administrators for the new homes.

Further, a special ward at Ambedkar Hospital is being readied to provide treatment to those inmates who may require hospitalisation, the official said.

Dikshit also instructed the health department to deploy three well-equipped ambulances for the inmates. Apart from this, mental health experts will be visiting the Home on regular interval for check-up of the inmates.

The Chief Minister also instructed authorities to conduct review of all existing homes so that no such incident takes place in future.

Walia and Singhal had visited the home on Monday and suggested a series of measures, including upgrading the shelter to a mini-hospital.

Finally, Asha Kiran inmates to be shifted : Times of India

TNN, Feb 18, 2010, 12.46am IST
NEW DELHI: After years of neglect and many deaths, the government has finally spelt out relief for inmates of the Asha Kiran home for the mentally challenged in Rohini. What was being proposed for over a decade is now being promised by chief minister Sheila Dikshit who has set a deadline to decongest the overcrowded home by shifting its inmates to three other buildings. One building in Bindapur and two others in rural areas are being upgraded for the purpose. The home as of now has space for 350 but it houses over 700 inmates.

Shifting will be undertaken on the basis of the gravity of the inmates' mental retardation.

The segregation will also be need-based. An expert team of doctors will guide the segregation process. There will be a separate administrator for the three buildings who will be fully responsible for the running of the home and will be accountable for all actions, CM Sheila Dikshit made it clear at a high level meeting on Wednesday.

Further, a special ward at Dr Ambedkar Hospital is being prepared to provide treatment to those inmates who may need hospitalization. The chief minister expressed confidence that there will be a positive change at Asha Kiran within two months.

The meeting, chaired by the CM, was attended by Finance Minister Dr AK Walia, Social Welfare Minister Mangat Ram Singhal, Health Minister Kiran Walia, Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta, Principal Secretary (Finance) JP Singh, Secretary (Social Welfare) Manoj Parida, Director (IHBAS) and other senior officers of concerned departments.

Dikshit instructed officials to conduct a review of all existing homes so that no untoward incident takes place in future. To cope with the extreme shortage of staff, it was decided to employ attendants on a contractual basis.

Dikshit also said three well-equipped ambulances will be deployed at the home. The ambulances will act like mobile hospitals. Experts from Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences will visit Asha Kiran regularly.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Deaths at Asha Kiran- isn't this a criminal negligence on part of State?

Dear Friends,

"Poor maintenance or lack of basic amenities could be contributing factors, however prima facie all the deaths seems to be natural" ! The statement doesn't inspire confidence.

It is evident that the deaths occurred due to lack of facilities which is equally criminal negligence of duty when compared to inflicting a fatal blow on some hapless person entirely in your custody with no chance to escape! Are you really serious about the human rights of those whom you put in institutions and forget?

Can the Government of Delhi own up the negligence on its part and fix the responsibilities of lapse and and provide for appropriate systems at the earliest?

The human rights record is so poor when it comes to disabled people here. And the Govt. is answerable to the nation and international community soon with the State Progress report on actions taken by Govt. in light of UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilites" falling due in May 2010.

DCPCR must act and ensure that those at fault are booked in terms of law and immediate preventive action are taken to restore dignity of life and basic services in the state run home by Delhi Govt.

Around 75 inmates died between 2004 and 2008 at the complex

Published on 01/14/2010 - 10:17:24 AM

New Delhi: The deaths of 12 inmates of a state-run juvenile home in one month were natural, the Delhi government said Wednesday in its reply to a National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) notice. According to investigating officials, poor maintenance or lack of basic amenities could be contributing factors.

According to investigating officials, poor maintenance or lack of basic amenities could be contributing factors.

The NHRC Tuesday issued a notice to Delhi Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta asking for a detailed report into the cause of deaths of members of Asha Kiran Home and the state of affairs at the juvenile home, in north west Delhi's Rohini area.

"The Delhi government has filed a reply to NHRC. Of the 12 inmates who died, one was under 18 years. Prima facie the cause of death appears to be natural. However, based on that we won't close investigations. In previous reports, the home was found to lack basic requirement and had poor sanitation levels. We are going to see if the deaths had anything to do with that," a senior official of the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) told IANS.

The NHRC was acting on a complaint filed by human rights activist Prabir Kumar Das who alleged that 12 mentally challenged inmates of the home had died in one month.

Media reports suggested that three of the 12 had died within 24 hours due to lack of basic facilities such as warm clothes.

An earlier report by the child right's panel in June last year had found that although sanctioned for 250 inmates, the only state-run complex for mentally challenged people in the national capital houses 750 mentally retarded men, women and children.

The children were found to be suffering from tuberculosis, seizures and skin diseases. The home lacked hygiene and proper sanitary conditions. Around 75 inmates died between 2004 and 2008 at the complex.

In many of these cases, the cause of death was epileptic seizures, which the DCPCR probe committee said could be owing to neglect of medical authorities.

The detailed report from the chief secretary sought by NHRC is due within four weeks time.

Nari Niketan Rape Victim gives birth to a baby girl on 03 Dec 09- World Disability Day!

Dear Friends,

We continue to learn from the life of the Chandigarh Nari Niketan Rape Victim - a mentally retarded girl. The God chose the day of birth -03rd December -World Disability Day. For media, its a great story, for me it is a great lesson for humanity and to understand abilities of those experiencing disabilities.

The mother has many hopes from the newborn as covered in the article below. The little child seem to be healthy and what amazes every one is that how the mentally retarded girl has adopted to motherhood! Nature continues to amaze all of us with the human instincts that it gives to the living species including men and women whom some experts may label as "incapable to taking care of themselves"!

I had covered this issue at great length in my earlier posts on my other blog "Disability  Rights through Courts" the links of which are as below:

Hope we all continue to learn from the developments as they continue to unfold.

Subhash Chandra Vashishth
Human Rights Worker
To read from source Click here:
‘Want daughter to be a doctor, to take care of me’

Like any young mother, she dotes on her newborn daughter and hopes that the baby will grow up to become a doctor. But her journey to motherhood has been far from normal.

When she gave birth on December 3 —World Disability Day — Sheila (name changed), who is in her late teens and mentally challenged, had crossed hurdles she could barely understand. Not only had she been raped and impregnated at the Nari Niketan here, the Chandigarh administration had convinced the Punjab and Haryana High Court barely a month ago that Sheila was not capable of looking after an infant and that the child would be a “toy” to her. That Sheila had been firm in her resolve to keep her baby was barely taken into consideration when it was ordered that her baby be aborted in the seventh month of pregnancy. A Supreme Court order, however, overturned this verdict.

Today, doctors at the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) are pleasantly surprised at the ease with which Sheila has adapted to motherhood.

“I am her mother. I will make sure that she grows up to be a doctor. Doctors are good human beings who alleviate the pain of others. No one has ever taken care of me. She will grow up and take care of me,” she says as she burps her baby, whom she has named Pari, before putting her to sleep. When asked who taught her how to do these tasks, she replies, “I took take care of an inmate’s baby at Nari Niketan. She was my best friend.”

But Sheila’s experience at Nari Niketan — a centre for destitute women — was nothing short of a nightmare. “I don’t ever want to go back,” she says. It was there, as investigations and subsequent high court judgments have shown, that she was repeatedly raped by three of the staff members of the institution in connivance with two female staff members who would beat her into submission. The child’s paternity will be known only after DNA tests.

“I want to go back to Ashreya. That is where they take care of me,” she says, referring to another government-run institute for the mentally challenged. It is Dr Raj Bahadur — Director, GMCH, and in-charge of Ashreya — who along with his staff has been credited for the marked improvement Sheila has shown after her ordeal.

“To be honest, even I am surprised at the tremendous maternal instincts she is showing. In fact, even her mental state has improved considerably after the child’s birth. Contrary to fears that she would be violent and may harm the baby, she is protective and caring and doesn’t even like staff members handling her,” he says.

Even as offers of help from various NGOs, social institutions and philanthropists pour in, the UT administration has decided to take full responsibility of the child and the mother. “All the expenditure of the child, mother, education, upkeep would be borne by the administration until the child completes her education and reaches adulthood,” says Anupam Gupta, senior standing counsel for the UT administration in this case.

This decision follows the Supreme Court’s overturning of the High Court’s verdict to abort the child in the seventh month of pregnancy. The apex court’s intervention had come as a result of an appeal made by amicus curiae R S Cheema. “The plea that the girl is of unsound mind and a minor and hence her consent is not valid was fallacious. There is no guardian, and the government said that since we are the custodians, our decision is valid. This again was again dangerous. If the child was aborted, it would have absolved the authorities. Remember, the rape took place under their custody and any decision to abort would have set a precedent that if a rape of a minor took place in government’s custody, they were free to go for termination of pregnancy,” says Cheema.

Next week, the mother and child will move back to Ashreya. “She is looking forward to that. She is very particular about the needs of baby and doesn’t like it if we hold her for long periods,” says Sonu, an attendant. As one leaves her room, Sheila says goodbye but not without a reminder to “bring sweets for Pari next time”.