COVID-19 OUTREACH TO FAMILIES WITH SPECIAL CHILDREN
Seventy six year old Baby Amma lives alone with her 40 year old daughter Sindhu who has severe intellectual disabilities. Deserted by her son post her husband’s death, Baby tends to Sindhu’s every need despite having serious health issues like Anaemia. She finds it difficult to walk, yet tends to all her household needs at her age! Sindhu often falls ill but they cannot afford the medications she needs to regularly take. Struggling for medicines and meagre rations during the lockdown, Baby was simply overjoyed when the aid reached her. “Thank you for thinking of us,” she says through her tears.
Valli is the 59 year old foster mother of Lakshmi, her sister’s daughter. Lakshmi lives with intellectual disabilities and Valli had placed her in NIEPMD for vocational training, hoping to make her a little more independent. Valli too works at NIEPMD as a cleaner, but is currently out of work until the school reopens. With no income, they were literally starving during the lockdown. The aid reached just in time for them to purchase much needed provisions and medicines.
Bhuvaneshwari is the mother of two children with intellectual disabilities. She was thrown out by her husband and his family while she was still carrying her second child. Literally on the streets, her mother took her in, and with the help of her brother she put her elder son in a Special School in Namakal. The lockdown was devastating to this family that has only a single bread winner – her brother. The aid she has received is helping this family survive a very difficult time.
Roobi is the mother of two girls with intellectual disabilities. She tries to be a diligent mother, attentive to the needs of her children especially as she cannot always count on her husband who tends to be an abusive drunk, squandering his wages. During the lockdown, the girls had fallen ill and Roobi’s liver and kidney problems flared up but they weren’t able to afford treatment. The aid reached her just in time to get medical care for her children and herself before things could get worse.
Vasanthi’s elder son lives with intellectual disabilities while the younger boy works in the Railways. Her husband was a driver but had to discontinue work after recently being diagnosed with a heart condition. To make ends meet, Vasanthi became a housemaid. The sudden and extended lockdown left her family bereft of means to survive as she too could not get work. They were very grateful for the aid with which they were able to purchase critical provisions and medicines.
Thilagavathy is the mother of three children with intellectual disabilities, of which one passed away. The children are studying at NIEPMD. One of her sons developed a cataract and urgently required surgery. The parents dipped into their savings and also took a loan from relatives and neighbours. The surgery was successful but paying back the loans was difficult with the lockdown in place. The timely aid is helping them square off their loans.
Nalini has three children with intellectual disabilities who are the joy of her life. Although her family survives on Government grants for the children, it is not withdrawable to use in times like these. Nalini had put her children in a special school but could find no improvement in them. That’s when she decided to teach and bring them up herself. She takes up tailoring to make ends meet. Not getting sufficient work during the lockdown, Nalini was finding it difficult to cope. The timely aid has helped this family tide over a very difficult time.
Sangaragomathi is the mother of six children of which two are children with intellectual disabilities. Deserted by both her husband and her family, she had been struggling to bring them up on her own. Sangaragomathi used to weave baskets for a living but found it difficult to sustain this activity due to ill health. Pooling their meagre earnings together, the elder children have been taking care of this family. During the lockdown they were in desperate financial need as the two special children required psychiatric help. She is very grateful for the assistance with which she purchased much needed medications for them.
Married off at 18 to a violently abusive man, Shantipappa bore him three children all of whom are intellectually disabled. Years ago her husband took his own life, and each day is a fresh struggle for survival. Shantipappa is unable to go to work as she cannot leave her children unattended. She rented a small shop but with no sustainable income, is unable to support her family. Her son suffers violent outbursts and with no hospital close by, she relies on prescribed medication to quell his condition. The assistance reached her in time to procure medicines, fruits and rice.