In India, people with disabilities are often stigmatised. This means many families with disabled children keep them hidden away or even abandon them.
At the SOS Children’s Village in Khajuri Kalan, SOS mothers and staff are all too familiar with cases of unwanted children and a society which is frequently ill-equipped to meet the needs of children with special needs.
The Village is home to more than 80 youngsters, with a range of disabilities. They are looked after in 14 family houses with specially trained SOS mothers and co-workers. The Village also has a well-equipped medical centre, which includes special units for physiotherapy, speech therapy, hydrotherapy and music therapy.
Allowing each child to blossom
Each child is considered unique and encouraged to play as active a part in Village life as they can. Sonu is one young girl who has risen to this challenge. Diagnosed with a congenital physical deformity, Sonu was brought to the SOS Village in Khajuri Kalan at just three years old. Now 11, thanks to the love and care she has received, Sonu has blossomed into a confident and bubbly child.
The eldest of all the children in her SOS family, Sonu often helps to look after her brothers and sisters. She also enjoys helping the adults plan celebrations and arrangements for special days and festivals.
But Sonu also likes to shed her responsibilities sometimes and be a child. At one of the recent festival celebrations, she decided to have some fun. Taking out her water gun and using filled water balloons from her pockets, Sonu celebrated the day by spraying water. Thankfully, the Village at Khajuri Kalan is situated on 70 acres of land, so there’s plenty of room for children to get up to mischief without creating a nuisance. The other children were happy to eat their sweets and special food while Sonu played.
A quality education for all children
Our caring and dedicated team at Khajuri Kalan will no doubt be delighted about the introduction of the disability bill. If passed into legislation, it will be a crucial step to empowering disabled people and helping them to assert their rights, such as the right to hold a job or open a bank account, even to have a decent education.
At Khajuri Kalan, children either attend local schools or special-needs schools, according to their individual abilities and requirements. Sonu attends the SOS school and her SOS mother says that every day the eleven-year-old “leaves home with a smile on her face”. Echoing the sentiments of women all over the world, she says “I can’t tell you how happy that makes me feel”.
Sonu is just one of many children with special needs we care for at our Children's Village in Khajuri Kalan. In 32 locations across India, we support children from a variety of backgrounds. Whether we're helping children with special needs in Khajuri Kalan or protecting those from the stigmatised Katkari tribe in Alibaug, we always tailor our approach to the individual needs of every child in our care. With half a century of experience in this country of contrasts, we are there to offer long-term support to India's most vulnerable children. Find out more about our work in India.