Khajuri Kalan, Madhya Pradesh
SOS Children's Village Khajuri Kalan is unique. In the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, it provides a loving home for children with disabilities, helping them to grow up with dignity.
The Village is about 40km from Bhopal, in a region where many children with disabilities continue to be marginalised.
Children with disabilities vulnerable to abuse
There are about 150 million children with disabilities globally, with the number in developing countries higher than in developed ones. There is a lack of reliable data about how many children in India are born with a disability. Some estimate the figure as high as 6% to 10% of children.
Many of these disabilities result from inadequate prenatal and postnatal medical care, a lack of knowledge about nutrition, and poor access to food and safe drinking water. Furthermore, early intervention measures are not always available, especially to those living in poverty or in remote areas. Disabilities may be acquired late in life by adolescents and young people, due to work-related injuries or risk-taking behaviour. Sadly, children with disabilities are vulnerable to exploitation, trafficking or abuse.
Although there is a growing disability rights movement, people with disabilities in India continue to be socially stigmatised. Signs of this are that they are more likely to be illiterate and have fewer employment opportunities than the general population. Families who look after a child with disabilities often see him or her as a burden, and therefore the child is not cared for in a way that they may fulfil their potential, and are not given the opportunity to live a dignified life.
A significant proportion of children with disabilities do not attend school. For example more than 60% of six to 13 year-olds with multiple disabilities and almost half of those with mental disabilities in the same age group don't attend school. There are many factors that cause this outcome. Firstly, there is limited aid to help families send their children with disabilities to school. Second, schools are not always adapted to the needs of children with disabilities, and there is a lack of technological aids to support their learning.
Providing children with disabilities a loving home and special support
SOS Children in India was asked to start a project for children with disabilities. There was a shortage of organisations that supported children with mental or physical disabilities, so we designed our own special programme. We provide loving homes, medical care, education and training to children and young people with disabilities. Every service is designed to meet the needs of these children.
In the SOS Children's Village, children live in family homes which have been specially adapted. For example, the SOS Mother's bedroom is large enough to sleep one or two infants if they require 24-hour care. All rooms, but especially the bathrooms, have been designed for children in wheelchairs or with walking aids. Each SOS Mother has a family helper who is trained to look after children with disabilities.
Some children attend local schools while others go to the SOS Primary School. As well as benefiting from a special educational programme, the children who need it have access to physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and speech therapy at the medical centre.
Young people can move into the special youth programme which accommodates up to 50 young adults. Here, they are provided with professional support while they attend further education, start a vocational training course or work. For example, we provide training in craftsmanship and agricultural production and processing. Among other things, the young adults have achieved successful harvests of wheat, soy-beans and other vegetables.
We provide children living with disabilities a loving home, and services that are tailored to their individual needs. This special support allows them to live with dignity. By sponsoring a child from Khajuri Kalan today, you can make a real difference in the life of a child.