The first internship for fifteen days I had was with Mobility India an organization in Bangalore during 2007.Its services are targeted towards Persons with Disability. The director told me that majority of the people who are disabled are from the slums. The creamy layer of the population gets access to all the services ,not affordable by the others.That is why we go to slums & seek them providing services instead of them seeking us ( Community Based Rehabilitation).
Report on the slum situation:
I went to Sarbandapalya ,Bhavani nagar , L.R. Nagar ,Yarab nagar -slums inBanshankari & Koramangala, Karnataka.All the slums’ inhabitants had at least two off springs and minimum 3 people in their family who were differently –abled.The religions Islam & Hinduism were predominant . Superstition ,poverty , fatal diseases ,illiteracy ,unemployment ,some employed in dangerous jobs like making camphor ,rag picking, drug addiction ,suicide, death ,abortion, frequent pregnancy ,illegal separation,desertion ,extramarital affairs ,no family planning ,physical ,verbal & sexual abuse of spouses ,marital rape ,polygamy ,male – dominated families ,physical & mental handicap ( due to society) ,Psychological (psychiatric depression ,conversion disorder , dependent personality disorder),mental (cerebral palsy , mental retardation , down syndrome ,autism) & physical illnesses (jaundice , fever ,cold , malaria )in every house .Every house had minimum 3 – maximum 14 children for a couple excluding abortions and still births, infantile deaths.
At such conditions , the probability of a child being born without any complications can be just 1% , I presume! There is one community doctor & the women don’t go for check-ups .They get 50 rupees per day to feed the whole family . The rest is spent for alcohol by husbands. They are not allowed to go for work. They face verbal abuse from money-lenders. At least twice they attempt suicide while pregnant. They would not divorce their husbands as they are bound to religious values.
Conditions of the Differently -abled:
The Differently -abled people from well-to-do families can have access to some benefits but for the people in the slums ,its a whole new world .They don’t have wheel chairs .How they are able to access different rooms and the restrooms without anybody to depend is a mystery! We hardly can do any kind of environment modification for their houses because mostly, the houses are rented ones and consist of a single room or two for the entire family .The roads are narrow. They cannot be sent to government schools also.Since their body is fragile and most add shame to their family members they are never allowed to go out of their houses.Its highly impossible to imagine their psychological and emotional disposition .They need to depend on others for their basic needs.
Due to professional constraints I can only superficially share one case and an incident during my exposure.
Client 1 : ( According to Social Work context)
One of my client’s mother has four children , two of them are mentally and physically challenged.Her husband is productive in terms of mutated sperms & is alcoholic .She has the above mentioned psychological illnesses , also has a history of schizophrenia diagnosed by me , endures abuses by husband & verbal abuse by other males too.She is not let to go out for work. Her only lingering thought is this :Who will take care of her children if she dies? She may or may not get money ( 50 Rs.) & has to feed her family accordingly.After all this she wouldn’t divorce fearing the society & her religion.
Professional & ethical consideration:
How do you think a social worker can approach these people to empower them when they are bound to religious values so much?Can the social work values and principles apply here?We are dealing with people & no machines. The lady was elder to me and she has had a lot of exposure on marital and family life! Could I counsel her on family and marital issues with the theoretical knowledge I have gained from social work?In the process of doing so , I did not know whether I was aggravating her problem or helping her reduce it!!
Last day of my fieldwork:
When i did apply my social work principles for a day ,I had unknowingly aggravated her problem which manifested later like this : On the same night I heard the news that she had attempted suicide!!!She had attempted to burn herself with petrol over her body and in the process had covered one half of her body with burns.There ended my internship! I was allowed one one follow up visit by my HOD.
I saw a very small girl deserted by her parents who had cerebral palsy left to the care of 88 year old grandmother in a house with single room .The girl was profoundly retarded with distorted face and body and couldn’t even balance herself and sit .Height was around 3.5 feet . Her mental age according to my calculation would have been around 2 years and not more perceiving her behavior.Her grandmother got some money on a regular basis by Mobility India and a free milk packet everyday. Who is to take care of the girl after the grandmother? I could only ask one question to the grand mother..What would she do once the girl attained puberty ? She replied that the girl was eighteen years old!
P.S : I Thank Mobility India , especially Mr. Jai Kumar ,Mrs .Noor Jahan & Mrs.Gulzar without whom most of the families would have been extinct .