Sunday, 28 September 2014

Mrs Ratna

Mrs Ratna has a disabled son aged 11 years .She has been  running the Om Disabled home for 11 disabled youngsters since the birth of her son. In Nepal, parents who are unfortunate enough to have given birth to disabled babies have no hesitation to abandon them. This is because there is no social services nor support to help the families. It is more so in the lower economic group that these youngsters will never be productive ( working and be  independent ) in their life time. They will always be a burden on the family .So for Mrs Ratna to do what she has been doing, it takes a very special lady.An admirable act of self sacrifice.

 As a result, disabled infants were often found abandoned in public places, as well as on the door steps of  disabled homes.  Some were brought to Mrs Ratna by the police, while others were found on her door steps. Admittedly some  parents did come and asked for their children to be taken in. And the parents were never seen again.  It is a fact that some of the abandoned children have no known birth details . Certainly none has a confirmed diagnosis of the disability they acquire at birth.

It is against this background that Uma was approached several times over the last few years, asking whether KIKN could help in any way  to support the disabled home. I was taken to visit the homes several times. I have always been careful to manage their expectation. Things changed this summer, and the KIKN trustees felt we could start in a small way by offering to pay for the food to begin with.

In the mean time KIKN has applied to another charity to explore the feasibility of  supporting the provision of  some therapeutic input for these forgotten children. It was agreed that while I am here in Kathmandu, I will make an assessment of whats required, and to contact the charity with my findings on my return to UK.

Uma and I have been to the disabled  home several times since. There is no doubt that these children will benefit greatly from the therapies we have planned  if the resources are made available. However, there is a big question mark over Mrs Ratna's ability to hold things together. I have had reports from the volunteers placed in the homes about her defensiveness about  many aspects of the children's physical and emotional care.

Uma and I talked about this  in great length. I am weary to commit KIKN to any project which may fail. It is more so when we are asking for financial help from another charity. I agonised over this , unsure of our next steps. Do we just abandon the idea of helping the children or what ? In the end, we decided that we will meet the issue head on. Mrs Ratna was invited to come to Uma's house. It was fortuitous because the 50 kilos of potatoes and groceries ( paid for by KIKN ) she asked for are ready for  collection .

Mrs Ratna is a young woman  in her mid thirties. A friendly woman who smiles readily.. She understands some English. Uma and I discussed the points I wanted to make. We agreed on the strategy to draw her out. The meeting went well. And I gained a better understanding of the stress she is under. She accepted that sometimes she can be  short fused with the volunteers working in the home..We looked at ways of  helping her from the volunteers' point of view. We gave examples of how we can work together, by not being defensive whenever a query was raised. Openness and trust  is vital if  KIKN  were to continue   to raise funds to help her in the coming years. As we were talking, I could see her visibly relieved and nodding her head to things Uma was saying to her. We raised the few concerns ( observed by the volunteers) with her. And she was able to talk to us rationally and openly, which Uma said its a 'first' from her.

By the time Mrs Ratna left, I feel better and clearer about the whole situation . I am prepared to give her benefit of our doubts,and trust that we can work together to help these forgotten children. So, Future For Kids, here we come !

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