Dear friends of the Handimachal project!
Field work in India and “blogging” are not always compatible – I really experienced this reality this summer, when, further to my delayed return from Zanskar and Ladakh, I spent the three remaining weeks sharing my days between Kullu and Manali, in order to fulfil my programme within the various projects implemented in the valley with La maison des Himalayas.
I came back to France (and back to work in Paris too…) at the beginning of September, and of course most of my time is now being spent behind a computer, but always keeping in my mind the fantastic images and memories stored all along this summer.
So here we are again! A small step back in past so that you may catch up with current news (more will come within a few days)
This is the translation of an article written by Linda Lefranc, a French OT volunteer who worked in the Handimachal Unit in May and June 2010. This article was posted on 22 June on the blog – Evert, sorry the translation comes so late ! Dominique
Linda Lefranc, 21 June 2010
The rehabilitation programmes for our young patients are taking shape in the Handimachal Unit. New occupational therapy activities have been organised, thanks to new games, in order to develop children’s motor capabilities and operational functions. Such games are sometimes created “in-house” but are nevertheless quite attractive for children.
The setting-up of the snoezelen room is still under way and this space should be operational very soon, which will be very useful in order to optimise rehabilitation.
Last Wednesday, we were lucky to experience dense and surprising moments during home visits. In particular, we met a young girl called Nitu (12 years), who is mentally-retarded and is also experiencing epilepsy fits. She is heavily challenged as she is also presenting severe behavioural problems (autism). It was impossible for us to propose a proper rehabilitation scheme as what she really needs for the moment is an adequate chemical treatment. What seems so simple in our country might not be simple at all here… Although we are not doctors, we could judge that the medicines she is currently taking are quite insufficient. Nitu’s mother should take her to Chandigarh in order to meet a proper neurologist, but considering distances involved and challenges faced by Nitu, we may understand the situation is somewhat complex.
On the same day, we went to Ritanshu’s home. Ritanshu, 14 years old, is also mentally-retarded with behaviour challenges. He was never proposed any regular and adequate rehabilitation programme, and his family cannot understand that every day stimulation is very important (as an example, he does not have any toy, why should he if he does not know how to play…). This may explain why he is challenged with uncontrollable behaviours and why it is quasi impossible to structure any activity for him. We have provided his parents with a few guiding principles and hope we will be able to improve his situation with time…
Every Wednesday I become more and more confident that such home visits are really essential.
On Sunday (20 June) we held our monthly Awareness Camp, in a village called Raison, between Kullu and Manali. Several disabled children were presented to us and we could refer two of them to our Unit, in order to confirm our assessment and propose a rehabilitation programme.
Linda, Kartik, Prakash Tapa and “Auntie”
in the snoezelen room.
One and a half month has already passed since the day I joined the Handimachal Unit in Kullu. It was for me an enriching experience which will remain unforgettable. I am now giving up my seat to Séverine Crampe, a French OT, who will undoubtedly, with enthusiasm, continue the rehabilitation process of our brave children…
I also want to express my gratitude to the Handimachal team and to Dominique Dufau and wish them all the best for the future!
Linda Lefranc, 21 June 2010
All pictures taken during home visits and during the Awareness Camp can be viewed in the June photo album from the French blog. You will also find there photos of young Prakash Tapa who spent the whole day with us in the Handimachal Unit, last Tuesday, instead of staying alone, outside his house, waiting for his parents’ return from work. This will now be his “Tuesday routine” and we hope that a more stimulating environment and interaction with other children will reduce his sensory isolation, as much as feasible.
In my turn, I would like to thank Linda for her involvement with our team and for her capability in adjusting to conditions so quickly to efficiently help children. She admits it was not so easy to apprehend local habits within such a short time. Once in France, she will be in contact with Séverine to hand over patients’ files and give her full impressions and advice; Séverine will fly on 2 July to Delhi, for a six month mission in Kullu.
Dominique, 22 June 2010