“The Community-Based Rehabilitation Program was not originally planned when we started our work. But we came across women who were left destitute, because a child was disabled. No one would take responsibility for this disabled child.”
(Mrs. Pearl Stephen, WDC Coordinator)
The CBR Program was the first of its kind in Sri Lanka, offering professional support for children with special needs even before any government programs existed. CBR creates an environment where disabled people have equal rights and mothers of disabled children have the fullest access to resources. Social integration of disabled people is the goal of this program.
Our service areas
Our program operates at different centers and special school units in the central province. At the grassroots level, field staff makes home visits to provide different types of services to people with disabilities. In additional we also have a vocational training centre.
We offer following services:
• Awareness programs
It’s hard to judge people when you know they can’t do the things most people do.
It is natural for people to be judgmental to individuals with disabilities. But if they knew what it must be like to have impairments they will have new perspectives in life. And this is what disability awareness programs are all about. Disability awareness programs are designed and delivered with the purpose of reducing the barriers and increase the understanding, acceptance, and inclusion for those with physical disabilities within our community.
Our officers conduct a range of awareness programs regularly throughout the year. They consist of nutrition programs, early identification of types of disabilities, ways to prevent them and rehabilitation, gender, advocacy, counseling, leadership. These Disability awareness programs aim to.
# Educating the public community by providing a more realistic, practical, and positive picture of people with disabilities.
# Providing suggestions on how to interact more comfortably and confidently to those with impairments thus helping them and their family to be more independent
• Physical exercises and use of equipment for children and adults with disabilities.
With the help of a physiotherapist our trained staff provides physical exercises at our centers and also demonstrates them during home visits. Now, there is wide variety of extensive resources available to aid the disabled persons in their day-to-day activities and to improve their quality of life. These handicap supplies include mobility aids, aids for daily activities, like cooking, bathing etc., and adaptive sports equipment. We refer our clients to other organizations where they can get these items at a concessional rate.
For individuals in our field, we help them make assistive devices such as walking frames in and around the house and special accessible toilets etc.
• Speech therapy for children.
We also have a speech therapist at our centre. With her help our trained staff members. (Holds a diploma at NIE) help children to develop adequate speech and language skills. Parents are also given a rehabilitation plan to work at home. The children are then referred to special schools in the district.
• Teaching Sign Language.
Special staff officers with training in sign language from the NIE train hearing impaired children and then refer them to special schools such as Dodamwala, Rathmalana and Koswana special school.
• Counseling (for parents, low vision by Ms. Biso).
Counseling is essential for parents of children with disabilities. We hope that counseling will ensure that families of children with any kind of disability or special health care need have the knowledge and assistance they need to make informed choices that support their child’s health, education, and development. As identified during the assessment, we refer parents for counseling.
• Community health camps.
With specialist doctors and other professionals we conduct health camps in rural areas .when disabilities are identified, they are referred to suitable places for medical attention and rehabilitation.
• Educating about Advocacy and legislation and policies for persons with disabilities.
• Vocational training activities.
Our purpose is to help differently- abled persons to develop their personal/ social skills to make them self reliant and be given training to enable them to be self supporting within their own families/communities with the prospects of gaining full employment. We also assist them to love in a suitable environment and accept them to be a contributor to national development. We conduct the following activities such as carpentry, ekel broom making, sewing, making candles and candle wick production, making envelopes , pharmacy bags, handlooms and prevocational skills training. Our officers also give training in vocational activities in the field.
These activities are then mastered by the person for income generation. Income generating activities for persons with disabilities help to relieve the burden of their disability on both family and society. And helps them to generate income and become self-reliant.our activities are chosen on the type of disability and their interest.
• Establishing networks
The program coordinates with government departments such as social service department, education department and health department and other non governmental organizations supporting persons with disabilities. We also represent Sri Lanka in the South East Asia CBR network.
• Establishing steering committee through parent’s societies.
Establishment of the Parents society has provides a network of parents who share common experiences with each other. This has also helped parents share the joys, the ‘how-to’s’ and even the heartache of parenting a child with multiple disabilities but most importantly to help protect disabled children’s rights and influence policy makers.
• We also provide special therapeutic programmes for children with learning disabilities and autism at our Kandy centre.
We have special Structured sessions are provided for children with learning disabilities and autism. These sessions are only carried out in our Kandy centre.
• Training on community based rehabilitation approaches on request.
As requested, we conduct training programes for other organizations, government officers, students, local women’s forums and teachers involved in working with the disabled. This is important; Since CBR strategies involve working closely with disabled people and their families as well as service providers to remove barriers that result in the exclusion of disabled people from full participation in community life. Integral and indispensable to this process is the develop
ment of effective training and communication skills of people working in CBR. For CBR to be an effective strategy it is essential that people engaged in CBR activities are able to train others in this field.
We have two types of programs, one day program and one week program. One day programme cover topics such as early identification of disabilities, and appropriate referrals, whilst the latter covers it more extensively on the same topics as well as on rehabilitation and social inclusion.
1. Support services
-providing resource personnel for skills training to patients with spinal injuries at Digana rehabilitation hospital
– providing resource personnel for skills training to patients with psychiatric disorders at Kandy, Peradeniya and Nawalapitya hospitals.
2. Vision project
WDC coordinates this project with the eye clinic of the general hospital in Kandy and sight savers. The purpose of the project is to develop and strengthen the community approaches for social inclusion with prioritized focus on Community Based Rehabilitation for persons with disabilities especially visually impaired / with low vision/ irreversibly blind and also other differently-abled individuals.
3. “Sahana” hostel
WDC and Department of Social Services and education department have established a hostel to accommodate mild mentally retarded children .Management of the hostel, providing residential care, support and protection is done by WDC.
1. Iresha Maduwanthi
Iresha Maduwanthi resides in Gomare Colony in Panvila DS Division, which is a poor village. She is the eldest of the family. Their father, as a result of an accident, has lost sight in one eye. Iresha has a multiple handicaps. Since she came to the WDC for help, she has been referred to the mental health unit of the Kandy Hospital. She was also referred to an eye specialist since she had visual difficulties.
She was recommended to have an eye surgery. Due to her hyper-active nature, the surgery was delayed till the hyperactivity was controlled. She was successfully operated on one eye and now able to look at the environment with gladness. The doctor has further advised to have a surgery for the other eye. Assistance provided by WDC to improve her living condition and providing other facilities such as transport has been much appreciated by the parents and others.
2.Eroshan Peumal Wijewantha
Peumal resides from Hanguranketha Division of Nuwara Eliya District . He was admitted to the WDC/CBR Program in Mailapitiya center. He has C.P (cerebral palsy) spastic condition. Peumal has a brother and a sister.
He has been referred to the Physio Therapy and Speech Therapy units at Kandy Hospital to receive necessary rehabilitation advice. His physical and speech problem are being constantly monitored and attended to, and much improvement is seen.
At four years of age, he was able to walk with aid. He mostly works with his left hand. Though he makes every effort to speak words, speech is still unclear. He has difficulties in swallowing food, drooling is present. He is a keen observer and carefully follows class activities. He makes every effort to write with his left hand. He mainly communicates through signs gestures and few words. While working with other children in the class enthusiastically, he shows much interest in listening to songs and to dance to the tune and loves playing. While he shows much pleasure in having friends visit him, he takes time to interact with strangers.
In the year 2007 he was admitted to Diyatillake Navodaya School at Hanguranketha (Grade I) with normal children. Though he is slow in his work, he cheerfully attends school. Through home visits it was possible to obtain back ground information of the child from the parents as well as the class teachers. Necessary advice has been given to the Parents essentially, with regard to activities to be carried out at home.
At present, Peumal is attending normal school. Since we noticed that the child was a slow-learner from January 2009 Peumal attends CBR Centre for twice a week, to receive additional help. Peumal is also given physical exercises. Further, he was referred to Centre for Handicapped to receive a neck brace. Peumal shows a good progress and as a result he is able to remember a song and narrate a short story.
It was a great pleasure to watch him present a lovely song and dance at the year ending program. Peumal looked like a flower in bloom.
3. Sashi Rekha Ragunathan
Sashi Rekha Ragunathan was born in Lower Kadugannawa in Yati Nuwara, was suffering from hearing impairment. In June 11, 2002. Sashi Rekha was admitted to the CBR for rehabilitation. She had received primary education in the Dodamwela School for the deaf and blind. Now she is able to read, write and count. To a large extent, she is more or less a normal child, able to do her day to day activities. And so the VTC has become a fruitful centre. She is now able to do fabric printing, cushion cover /pillow case making and shows special talents in sewing. She also shows skill in some sports activities. She participated in Volley Ball games and her group won the first place.
In 2007 she received a special training in leadership and Entrepreneurship. Under the ‘Motivation’ organization ,she has been selected and has done a sewing training with Rehab Lanka for two months. Then she found employment in Digana BOI – Lihiniya Garment Factory. She is drawing a monthly Wage of Rs. 15,000/-. At present she is happily married and leads very successful life.