Week 3: Association of People with Disabilities (APD)

– By Orlaith McManus

Week 3 has passed and it’s hard to believe the trip is approaching the end so quickly. For the past 3 weeks Sarah and I have been working in APD, the Association for People with Disabilities.

Orlaith McManus working in APD (India)

Orlaith McManus working in APD (India)

This week in APD we got the opportunity to read the medical notes of the children attending the Community Learning Centre unit. There was a wide range of disabilities present within the class of 20 pupils, and it was at this stage that I really appreciated the work of the teachers in the CLC. They have a remarkable ability to work with and encourage each child individually despite the fact that each child has completely different needs. Each day, the children complete numerous learning activities such as painting, colouring and reciting action songs to develop their motor and communication skills. We spent the week helping the children complete these tasks and entertaining them as the teachers were preparing for new activities.  Never had I expected to spend so much time singing nursery rhymes but ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ always seems to go down well despite the language barrier!

Within APD, onsite physiotherapy is provided; both on a one-to-one basis and in the form of group therapy. We attended numerous physiotherapy sessions throughout the week and helped to deliver the therapy in any way we can. Trampoline therapy is always a highlight for us, and thankfully the kids seem to enjoy it too! Not only do the children from the CLC benefit from the physiotherapy services, but so too do the younger disabled children in the community. APD run an Early Intervention Programme where babies are screened for disabilities in local hospitals. If required, they are referred to the physiotherapists in APD. The physiotherapist explained to us that cerebral palsy is common in Bangalore, and how early intervention can have great benefits. The same children attend the sessions each day and I noticed that there is almost a family atmosphere within the unit. It’s great to see the progress of the children.

A highlight of the week was when one child took his first independent steps at the age of 3 ½ despite the fact that just 3 weeks ago he was unable to stand unaided. It was so satisfying to see that the intervention was making such a difference in the short time we have been here.

Mondays and Fridays are spent in Ulsoor CLC. This is a branch of APD based in a slum region of Bangalore. Prior to our first visit to Ulsoor I thought that APD had limited resources; however Ulsoor CLC was based in a classroom half the size of that in the main APD campus. Despite the lack of space and resources, the teachers and pupils make full use if what they have available to them. Similar learning activities were carried out in Ulsoor and the general day to day routine was similar, so it wasn’t too difficult to get into the swing of things in the new setting. The children attending the Ulsoor CLC seemed to be in more need of extra care and so it was really rewarding to feel you were making a difference seeing their faces light up as you play with them.

The week ended in Summanahali as we were kindly invited to a barbeque to celebrate the work of the 2014 SERVE volunteers. There was a sing-song and traditional music played at the barbeque, and best of all; boiled spuds! The past 3 weeks have flown by and I can’t believe it’s so close to the end, hopefully this week will be as enjoyable as the rest.