Physiotherapy and occupational therapy volunteers
This project started in 1991 when the founder witnessed the profound misunderstanding and prejudice directed towards children and adults with disabilities in their own community. The goal of giving a decent education to every disabled child in Rajasthan was born, and the school started with 20 disabled children being taught under a tree.
Since then the school has flourished. It expanded into a residential school to provide free education for children from a wide rural area – those who could not afford or reach education in their local rural communities.
The numbers increased to over 500 at the peak, with a high number of children being victims of polio – physically damaged but intellectually bright. Thankfully this number is now reducing due to the introduction of vaccines, but polio is still the major cause of disabilities at the school of over 200 students, with amputees, cerebral palsy and genetic disabilities also being prevalent.
In the late nineties girls were given access to the school, and now constitute some 25% of students, fighting another cultural prejudice.
The goal has also evolved; from being focused on providing just an education, they now aim to turn physically challenged children into self-sufficient citizens who are not dependent on their families for their well-being. Children and young adults are given a high standard of education backed by vocational skills and life skills, to help them enter University, start enterprises or compete with able bodied adults for orthodox jobs.
Most recently the project has led an innovative project that integrates disabled and able-bodied children and adults through sport, with disabled students taking leadership roles to help educate able-bodied peers from the rural community on issues such as health, education and gender, thereby flipping the disability model on its head.
There is a prosthetics and orthotics workshop on site and a rudimentary therapy room, but with limited funds they cannot currently afford a physiotherapist to work with the children, and there is no history of occupational therapy at the school.
The project Director would very much wish for a physiotherapist and/or occupational therapist to work at the school, helping with the students physical well-being and development.
Volunteers would have the sponsorship of the Executive Director and the support of the local staff to design a programme based on your experience and the priorities of the students.
There are currently no local physiotherapists or occupational therapists at the school, yet over 200 students with a varying range of disabilities. So there is plenty of work to be done, but volunteers should not expect to inherit any structure or programmes for their therapy. You will need to bring both experience and confidence to the volunteer role, and it would especially suit two volunteers working together.
The children are expected to attend their classes and after school sporting activities. The volunteer would integrate their sessions with the existing timetable.
With more free time for the children at the weekend, volunteer therapists could shift their own ‘weekend’ to alternative days, to create the maximum opportunity to work and play with the children.
Volunteers live on site, but we plan for you to spend one weekend a fortnight back in Jodhpur if you wish, to recharge your batteries and do some sightseeing.
The school is doing admirable work to educate and empower the disabled students, as well as outreach work to educate the able-bodied community.
However, they do not have professional therapist skills available locally, (or the money to pay for them), to help these students manage and adapt to their disabilities.
Volunteer physiotherapists and occupational therapists can help the children lead an improved quality of life, easing the short and long term effects of their disabilities, and helping develop the techniques and coping strategies that enable them to live a fuller life in future.
India has been a dream; a noisy, disorganised, magical dream that I wish I didn’t have to wake up from because nothing is ever going to be as exciting as this three months has been.Womens empowerment, India