i35 & iGO: India
Care for orphaned and special needs children in India.
While the Caste System has been outlawed in India since 1947, it still exists in the rural villages. LoveManifest comes alongside people from the lowest caste known as Dalit’s, more commonly referred to as “Untouchables.” These lowest caste villagers are referred to as “contaminated”, treated as less than human by the population. Left with no other option, some children were tied to their bed to keep them safe as their parent’s went to work. Another child spends day and night lying on the ground, unable to even sit up. These children lack the most basic of skills and at best, are destined to a life of total dependency.
The Isaiah 35 Project (i35) is a unique program involving mentally and physically disabled children from the poorest villages of the Thanjavur District in Tamilnadu, India. The program seeks to resuscitate this destitute and forgotten group of children and their mothers in an area even their local church has refused to go. An evaluation of 56 villages in the area has shown there to be 128 special needs children, including those with mental, visual and physical impairments.
Working with the Children
43 of the 128 special needs children are currently enrolled in the Isaiah 35 Project. These children attend a rehabilitation center 3 days a week on the campus of a large higher secondary school to bring them together with teachers, occupational, speech and music therapists to develop basic life skills and job training according to their abilities. The children first learn how to dress, feed themselves and use a toilet, graduating to trade skills ranging from candle making to computers. These trade skills will provide the children with income potential for the rest of their lives, bringing hope and healing to seemingly hopeless and forgotten children labeled as “untouchable.” After arriving at the center the children are divided into groups according to their functional level. Each group follows different schedules with activities designed to suit their individual skills and abilities, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and education amongst other programs. These activities are designed to focus on personal, motor, functional and social development.
Working with the Mothers
Prior to the i35 program, the caring mothers of these special needs children spent all of their waking moments providing care and attention for their child. Unable to participate as a contributing member of the village, this further isolated the family as despised burdens to the community.
LoveManifest’s indigenous partners are currently working with the mothers and children in their own homes to prepare them for being apart much of the weekday as well as train them in these new ways to care for their children. While the children are attending the rehabilitation center our partners are hard at work with the eager mothers to provide job training that will help integrate them into the work force and foster their own communities.
The LoveManifest Home & School in Rathinangudi
A saving grace for 60 orphans, semi-orphans, and neglected children, all ages 5-10. This home school provides free education for grades 1st through 5th, medical, vision, and dental care, clothing food, and recreational facilities, and a home for the children who are without. Utilizing every government program available, these sweet lives are still lacking many of the basic needs that we have and take for granted every day.
Sustainable Income: The Goat and Dairy Farm
iGo’s response provides for these children’s day to day needs while we work with our Indian partners to develop a sustainable income through a goat and dairy farm. Started in late 2013 with 20 goats, the farm continues to grow in leaps and bounds. The farm will generate 50% of the income needed to keep this home school running while at the same time creating work and hope for the local community.