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“Making Life a Joyful Experience – for those who need an alternative”

Friday November 16, 2012 – On Wednesday and Thursday myself and 8 other classmates had the opportunity to work with an NGO here in Ahmedabad called Prabhat. The Prabhat Education Foundation started in 2003 and it helps children and with various mental and physical disabilities. Prabhat aims to fight against the stigma and discrimination that is often projected at individuals with disabilities. The organization has three locations in Ahmedabad. On Wednesday the Prabhat organizer Keshap Chatterjee took us through a tour of the “slum” area of Ahmedabad (“the other side of the bridge”) where one of the centres is based. We were welcomed into many homes and had the pleasure to meet many children with various disabilities including down syndrome and cerebral palsy. This was a very intense and overwhelming experience. We certainly attracted a lot of attention in the slum and children were constantly asking to take our picture. At one time we probably had up to 20 children surrounding us and following us. It is hard to imagine life in a slum and have to cope with a child that has a disability on top of that extreme, difficult life.

After the visit we went to Keshap’s second location. A sad story of discrimination was explained to us. This location is brand new for the organization and they were kicked out of their old building. The previous community where the old building was based felt that having this centre in their neighborhood would bring down the value of the houses and they could not accept and welcome these special children in their community. Such a terrible, sad story of prejudice thoughts and actions. So the new building that Keshap took us to can be looked at as a fresh start and a clean slate for this new community. He showed us around the building and asked for our help to get the building ready for when the children come in on November 22 (all 84 of them!). So on Thursday we dedicated the afternoon to help out by cleaning, painting and constructing wind chimes out of the metal polls that the constructions workers were welding. We even built a scarecrow for the children out of old rags and the metal materials around the building.

Near the end of the afternoon we took a break and we got to meet the centre’s leader. Her daughter has mental and physical disabilities and she told us her story as a single parent and about her daughter’s birth and her struggles trying to raise her in a society full of discrimination and prejudice thoughts.

It was an extremely rewarding day and amazing to see the impact we were able to make in such a small timeframe.  We will be returning this afternoon to continue helping out and Keshap said he wants to take us to a nearby lake after we volunteer at the centre today. Alexa and I hope to dedicate some more time to volunteer at the centre this weekend.


2 thoughts on “Prabhat

  1. Yes so much to learn from, it has been the highlight of this great experience so far. Such a pleasure to be welcomed into their homes and communities. The children have so little yet have so much life.

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