Between September 2017 and August 2020, we worked with local partners Ekta, SPEAD and WORD in the state of Odisha, India to implement our project “A voice for carers: achieving recognition and inclusion of family carers of the disabled from Adivasi communities of Odisha”.
In this project we worked with 1,500 carers of persons with disabilities and mental illness from marginalised tribal communities in Koraput which is one of India’s poorest districts.
Our project incorporated all five aspects of our Carers Worldwide Model:
- Carers Support Groups: We formed local self-help groups where carers now regularly meet to address their emotional needs and to learn about their rights and entitlements
- Health Services: We set up health camps so that the health needs of both carers and those they care for could be addressed and treated with referrals made to the district hospital as required
- Respite and Short Breaks: We opened Community Caring Centres for children with disabilities which provide their carers with opportunities to socialise or respite
- Employment, Training and Education: We provided training opportunities for carers so that they could learn livelihood skills and provided financial support so that carers could start their own ventures or expand existing ventures
- Advocacy: We established a district level Carers Association and trained carer representatives on how to advocate for their rights and needs
Giridhar and his wife Sumni who care for their daughter, Rubina were just one of the families supported by the project. Rubina became paraplegic and developed myopathy after contracting Polio at the age of 7.
When Ekta began working with the family, Rubina could not even stand up and her parents had to carry her to school. The project staff suggested that Rubina may benefit from surgery so assisted the family in taking Rubina to the District Headquarter Medical Hospital.
Rubina underwent surgery and received follow-up physiotherapy which enormously improved her condition to the extent that she can now walk unassisted. Her new-found mobility means she can now walk to school herself and so that aspect of Giridhar and Sumni’s caring responsibilities has been greatly reduced.
Both parents joined their local carers group, the Maatarini Carers Group and Giridhar is a regular attendee of the group meetings. Through the group the couple learned about government schemes that they are entitled to. They applied for a disability certificate for Rubina which confirms the severity of her disability. As a result, the family now receives an increased pension for Rubina and an education scholarship.
As well as providing practical information, the carers group has improved the emotional wellbeing of Giridhar and Sumni who no longer feel alone in their role as carers.
A final benefit for the family has been the livelihood support that Giridhar has received. Prior to the project, Giridhar was running a mobile shop and would visit weekly markets to sell clothes. He received financial support through the project to expand his business which now earns him a sufficient amount to better support his family. He has also applied to the Odisha Livelihood Mission for further financial assistance which will enable him to set up his own permanent shop instead of travelling between villages.
We hope that this blog series has shown you how effective the Carers Worldwide model is in holistically transforming the wellbeing of carers and their families in South Asia. If you would like to know more about how our model works in practice, then please explore our project pages.