Gita is our volunteer and she looks after Ashish. Ashish is a little boy with Autism. He used to stay at home and he was not welcomed at the preschool. His parents found it difficult to care for Ashish. Our volunteer, herself a girl with disability, has been to help Ashish to learn to speak and interact with other kids. The parents have come to really appreciate and care for Ashish however the local preschool would not admit him. The volunteer began talked with the Angawadi teacher and tried to change her attitude and to admit Ashish. From the trainings we had given the volunteer she was aware that Ashish had a unnamedright to attend school under Indian law. She told the head mistress this. She also tried to help the head mistress empathise with Ashish and his family?”You have kids. Just think if your child had a similar problem? Think how hard it already is… and then the schools will not even accept your child.How would you feel? This cuts to the core of what our Samvedna program is all about (Samvedna is Hindi for empathy)!.The head has now accepted Ashish at the preschool and he doing well.Our volunteer plans to go along with him to make sure that his learning needs are catered for.

Winners of the “JOY IN DISABILITY” photography contest



1st prize Mammma gangnam style photo courtesy – Mr.William Baptist Christian Hospital.

My friend! my world!Photo courtesy - Ms. Anshu Baptist Christian Hospital.

2nd prize My friend! my world! Photo courtesy – Ms.Anshu Baptist Christian Hospital.

little by little... one day at a time i take... photo courtesy- Mrs. kamla layak Anugrah centre.

3rd prize little by little… one day at a time i take… photo courtesy- Mrs. kamla layak Herbertpur Christian Hospital .

Here’s to people like him and may there be many more…
For those of us who have the privilege to know these people with differences, we have been enabled to see…But for those still unable to see, may this photographer open a whole new world!

The precarious situation in India with regards to the welfare of people with disabilities

THE SIGNS ARE OMINOUS The Hindu Editorial 27 July 2013
The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) cannot hold the prospects of the country’s hearing impaired ransom to the whims of a single individual head of institution. In a patently regressive move, the premier university has recently decided to shut down the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Center(ISLRTC) from the current academic year, despite the growing emphasis on signing as a language to bridge the communication barrier between the deaf and the hearing.
Ironically though, it was IGNOU that took the pioneering initiative to start a Bachelor of Arts degree in sign language in 2009, in collaboration with the University of Central Lancashire in the United Kingdom. It was this program that prompted the Union Human Resource Development (HRD) and Social Justice and Empowerment (SJE) ministries to involve IGNOU in the establishment of the ISLRTC on its campus in 2011. This was the very Center for which a huge headline-grabbing outlay was announced in the 2010 Union budget. Beyond the fanfare, the Finance Minister’s statement raised hopes that the government was at last acting on a promise, contained in the 11th Plan document, to set up a nodal center to standardize Indian sign language and train a large number of people in it. But suddenly, the larger objective of bringing the hearing impaired into the national mainstream seems in danger of being ignored.
The factors that appear to have influenced the current deplorable move are not particularly clear. But the Vice Chancellor’s reasoning that a dual degree course was not conceived under the IGNOU Act does not stand up to scrutiny considering that the conception of new program and alterations to existing ones are well within the powers of the academic council. Nor is it the case that open and distance education preclude teaching and learning face-to-face.Admissions for the sign language course have been frozen since last year and the first batch of students on the verge of completing their degree face the unsavory prospect of being awarded a mere certificate.
IGNOU’s ham-handed approach betrays the precarious situation that prevails in India as regards the welfare of people with disabilities. The SJE and HRD ministries should intervene expeditiously to ensure the resumption of academic activity at the sign language center. They should also strive towards according sign language the status of an official language, promote education of the hearing impaired in that medium and establish appropriate interpretation services. Each one of these is consistent with the mandate of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which the government has already ratified

photography contest for all EHA employees

The theme for the contest is ” THE JOY IN DISABILITY ” – Having eyes that see…..
helping those with obvious disabilities to look beyond the challenges of those with disabilities and to celebrate their lives.
cash prizes will be awarded to the first 3 winners at the RGB-2013.
* Every EHA employee is eligible.
* Only one entry will be accepted per person. The entry must be the original work of the sender.
* Photographs may be taken of individuals or group of people with disability. (any disability)
* Any photo which shows disrespect to the people with disability will be disqualified.
* Photographs must be taken only with the permission of the person being photographed.
* The resolution of the photograph must not be less than 300 dpi.
* The entry must consist of a photograph and a title describing the photo. the title can be in English or Hindi.
* The photographs should be submitted as a soft copy email attachment to the
* If the entries exceeds 30, a panel of Non-EHA judges will select the best 30 entries that will be displayed in the exhibition at RGB.


This morning’s devotion left a word echoing in my heart – ‘blessed’.
Max Lucado called it ‘sacred delight’.
Delight because it is a life held together by joy. Sacred because He does the holding together (Col 1:17).
A life of sacred delight…
delight in the difficult places we live in and work in,
delight in helplessness of apparently unchanging circumstances,
delight in the weariness that comes following the giving,
delight in the midst of heartache of those we are involved with walking away,
delight in the daily-ness of everyday.
We delight in all these situations not because we are masochistic
but because we delight in the Lord,
the El-Shaddai God who is sufficient in all these situations;
into my not-enough-ness, the God-who-is-enough speaks.
As we go back to our project areas after four days of having ‘come apart’,
we choose to go back because of joy…
for the joy set before us…
And this is sacred because this joy is given.
Sacred delight!

Different yet the same!

Different projects; different target areas; different groups of people that we work with.
And yet, we are more alike than different.
For the Author of our stories is the same.
I was reminded of this as I sat back and listened to people presenting their reports at the annual reporting meeting in Patna for all the community development projects from the North-east and central regions.
What was even more awesome was that from just two projects that would talk about disability and ask questions of one another, we have grown in number. We talk the ‘disability-talk’ and can actually understand one another 🙂 ! We have begun to hold each other accountable to include people with disabilities. We have come a LONG way!
And just in case you wondered, the picture is a group of us showing off our ‘disability’ T-shirts!!!



All is Grace!

I met these 3 amazing boys at the Sahaspur learning center.

All three on wheelchairs, all in their early teens and the best of friends…

one of them had had a fall about two years back and because of a spinal cord injury is on the wheelchair.

The other two have muscular dystrophy with at least one of them very clearly aware of what lies in store for him.

Even so, they laugh, sing, weep, dance, cheer each other on …LIVE!

They will probably pack in more in their ‘what-is’ than what I will ever pack into my ‘what-will-be’.

Once in a while…just once in a while, I stop planning for the future to pay attention to the present.

And all three of them showed me how…

To soak in every moment that is soaked by Grace!

Life as a series of nows…

Advocacy workshop with a difference!!!! (17th -20th April 2013)


Last week I conducted a Disabled peoples’ group training in Sahaspur near Herbertpur, Uttarakhand. Looking back, over the last 3 years I have conducted about 35 workshops all over north India with about 1000 participants. But to my surprise this workshop was totally different from my earlier ones, mainly because the participants themselves were different from others. And it was these differences that made the workshop one of the most interesting I’ve run and, while exhausting, also quite fun.

The participants were living with varying levels of disability, mostly orthopedic. That in itself didn’t make too much difference, except perhaps to the types of group games we could do together (shifting chairs quickly for ‘Spare Chair’ wasn’t really possible).  The bigger difference was earlier I addressed participants who were NGO workers many of whom would be 12th pass at least but this time it was folks with lower levels of education which in turn means that their attention was for shorter span. In order to get the attention of my participants I had to change my style of workshop like changing activity every 45 minutes. Further, since the literacy levels were lower than other groups, I needed to keep the level of text down a little. Both of these adjustments weren’t too difficult to make but it gave a confirmation to my belief that “participation is a key to people’s learning”. It made sure getting people involved through questions, role plays and many such activities provides a reasonable chance for learning, regardless of how educated they are. I believe the best part of the workshop which the participants especially thoroughly enjoyed was the role play pretending to be government officers and making all sort of excuses why they couldn’t grant various benefits to people! I enjoyed it too.

This workshop made me realize the importance of making an advocacy manual with simpler documents which will be user friendly for folks with less education like DPOs, CBOs and SHGs. Over the next few months I would like to work on that.

Now the challenge for the Anugrah project over the coming years will be gradually reducing the amount of input they usually give to the groups so that they can steadily become more independent. Thanks to everyone there for an interesting few days.

Mark Delany

Program Manager, Advocacy


About reporting meetings………..

I was thinking about the Annual reporting meeting coming up next month. One of us will stand up and talk about what we had planned, what we achieved, what went well, what were the difficulties. We will present numbers of people with disabilities we helped with disability certificates, disability pension, in getting wheelchairs, in getting corrective surgeries done etc. To most people, they will only be figures on a table, numbers on a spreadsheet.

But for those of us who work them, these numbers have faces; they have names; they have their own stories. They are individuals who have shared their space with us and we have become richer in the process. So, if you ask me, we will continue to be involved even if we are able to share the story of only one person. How can numbers capture the immeasurable something that we leave behind in each other’s lives?

 So those of you labouring over reports, be encouraged! Only heaven will reveal the impact of what you do. Till then, let us not become weary…

‘And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.’ Gal. 6:9 (Amp).

Jubin Varghese