Raphael is a large Centre that supports disability, not only here at the school and hostel in DehraDun, but out in the wider community as well, through the CBR and John Hunt Outreach Programs.
Raphael runs a Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) Program where trained physiotherapists and special educators provide support to children with disabilities in the local community. They regularly visit the children in their homes and schools and give parents and teachers training on how best to meet their needs.
I was extremely fortunate to be able to take part in the John Hunt Outreach Program last week. This Program supports children with disability and their families in very remote parts of the state. I travelled with two special educators for 8 hours up into the Himalayan Mountains along narrow and incredibly windy roads to the district of Uttarkashi. There we presented to 215 Anganwadi - woman who look after children aged 0-6 in the remote villages, about how to identify disability in children. Some had walked up to 30 kms to be at the training session. I spoke about identifying and supporting children with a learning disability through a translator.
On Friday morning we were taken by one of the supervisors into a very remote village which can only be accessed by foot or motorbike. We spent time in an Anganwadi (preschool centre for children from 0-6 years). We then assessed 31 children with a range of disability from deafness, to Cerebral Palsy to intellectually disability. The youngest was 8 months and the oldest 14 years. We gave the parents and supervisors some strategies to help their child and will take two of the children at Raphael School/ hostel. Most families were also issued with a Disability Certificate for their child, enabling them to receive financial support from the government of 1000 rupees per month ($20 AUD).
On the trip back to DehraDun we were stopped for a large landslide while they cleared the road. It was an amazing experience; the work of the outreach program makes such a difference in the lives of so many children and families.