ASTHA is one of the few cross-disability organizations working actively with children and persons with disabilities. ASTHA works in partnership with children/persons with disabilities and their families empowering them to access their rights. This guides our work ethics and beliefs, at the core of which is advocating for the full rights of individuals with disability. We follow the strategies of Advocacy, Research and critiquing of policies, Habilitation and Rehabilitation, Raising awareness of the value of persons with disabilities, Capacity Building, Community Mobilization, Information and knowledge Exchange, Participation of Persons with Disabilities. We are also one of the few disability organizations in Delhi which has been working in urban slums and resettlement colonies.
About This Cause
ASTHA: A Brief Introduction
ASTHA is one of the few cross-disability organizations working actively with children and persons with disabilities in urban slums and resettlement colonies in Delhi. The organization works in partnership with children/persons with disabilities and their families empowering them to access their rights.
For over two and half decades, ASTHA has been working towards the empowerment of all children and persons with disabilities, the organization focuses on rehabilitating and supporting children and persons with multiple disabilities, girls with disabilities, with particular emphasis on enabling children with disabilities who live in the poorest and most vulnerable communities, facing difficult circumstances.
For the last 25 years, ASTHA has worked consistently in the urban‐slums of Delhi:
• Linking families of people with disabilities with rehabilitation, facilitating access to schemes.
• Providing information, counseling and support.
• Enabling children with disabilities to develop hobbies, nurturing their talents and abilities.
• Empowering young people with disabilities to understand and claim their rights.
• Sensitizing communities and the society to become more inclusive.
At the national level, the organization reaches out to persons with disabilities and their families through its National Disability Helpline and creating knowledge on disability rights through workshops and studies and provision of training to other organizations.
Over the last twenty‐five years, ASTHA has been able to accomplish several milestones:
• It has reached out to over 25,000 persons with disabilities and their families within the urban slums of Delhi
• Since its inception, the National Disability Helpline has reached out with information to approximately 20,000 families in all states of the country
• Conducted over 600 workshops and over 50 research studies nationally, that have raised awareness about disability issues
• Enabled more than 200 children with disabilities in the slums of Govindpuri and the Lalkuan urban‐village in south‐Delhi to access mainstream schools for inclusive education
• Enabled successful establishment of three strong community groups working as agents of change: Viklang Ekta Manch (Young‐adults with Disability), Chingari Mahila Samiti (Womens’ group) and the Parents of Children with Disabilities Support Group(Rahat), to advocate for their rights, discuss their concerns, and become self‐sufficient, independent and mutually supportive communities.
• To work towards an inclusive society where children and people with disabilities are respected and valued
• Bring about a positive differences in the inclusion of rights of persons with disabilities in the context of all government policies, laws and schemes
• Ensure the implementation of all schemes and laws, such that they are accessible to all persons with disabilities in India
• To work in partnership with children and persons with disabilities and their families, with a focus on the most marginalized.
• To uphold rights and build the capacities of all stakeholders to build an inclusive society.
Community Based Rehabilitation Programme
Through the community based rehabilitation programme, ASTHA has enabled:
• Community to be aware of the rights of their children especially in the area of education and food. This has resulted in more and more parents of children with disabilities and other marginalized children approach school and demand for education confidentially. The awareness programmes in the community has facilitated other children also to access education.
• Women’s group to advocate and the initiation for Aanganwadis in their communities. They are also developed as pressure groups to monitor the activities in Anganwadis and schools. They are also advocating the inclusion of children with disabilities in Anganwadis
• Community to form various focus groups comprised mainly of women. Regular capacity building training workshops, not only on right to food or education but also on law against violence, have enabled them to take certain commendable steps to stop domestic violence in their own community.
• Over a period of time we have been able to build people’s organizations in the communities. These are-- namely Viklang Ekta Manch, Chingari Mahila Samiti, Parents Group and children’s reflect groups. The community leaders from these CBOs are actively working in the community. They are very conscious about the rights and entitlements. The leaders of Viklang Ekta Manch and Chingari Mahila Samiti are working with the other networks and campaigns on disability rights and community entitlements.
• Children to build understanding of their rights. The children (both disabled and non-disabled) are being regularly exposed to their rights through play based fun activities in ASTHA run Child Right centres in various strategic locations in Lalkuan village and Govindpuri slums. These Child Right Centres have also been served as a community platform for social inclusion for children with disabilities.
This program focuses on enabling children with disabilities to access inclusive education. The goal of the project is to enable children with disabilities to access quality and providing rehabilitation services, education preparation and support services to children with disabilities in the communities of Okhla Industrial Area. Doing intensive work with children, parents, community and schools so that the children with disabilities get enrolled in schools easily. Activities includes Identify new children with disabilities, assessments and planning ,identify the specific needs of the families and children with disabilities, access to required rehabilitation services as well as entitlements, sensitization of school management committees, work with local authorities to ensure the entitlements for education are available to the child.
Resource Centre for children with disabilities was initiated in the 2011, to offer focused education support to those children with disabilities in the age group of 6 to 14 years who are either at risk of dropping out from the school system or out of school needing focused & specialized intervention for inclusion in schools.
The children availing services at the Resource Centre came from Govindpuri Slums and Lalkuan Urban village where ASTHA already has well established Community Based Rehabilitation Programs running for the past several years. Apart from children from Govindpuri and Lalkuan communities, the children also get referred to this programmed from ASTHA’s Cross disability Helpline. The Centre provides transport to children to enable them to come.
Disability Information Resource Centre
Disseminating information and conducting research on issues that affect the lives of people with disabilities while working in close partnership with their families.
The initiation of the Information, Communication & Counseling Unit was based on the above and various issues which were identified at the grass root level were taken on as topics of research, study and workshop on dissemination of information.
We have published several training manuals, Tool kits to understand laws, Reports on status on Right to Education for children with disabilities. Please find attached the Annexure for our publications.
National Disability Helpline
National Disability Helpline is the first national level disability helpline in India, has operated in collaboration with NATIONAL TRUST for 5 years [2008-13]. Our helpline has also worked in partnership with other funding agencies. Helpline provides information, counseling and referral services all across the country covering all the disabilities which gives it the status of a national cross-disability helpline. The helpline provides counseling services over the phone and face to face counseling sessions whenever required.
Early Childhood Care and Development Program
The time period of 0 to 8 is critical for children born with disabilities or acquiring disabilities in early life. This is the time that a lot can be done to develop to their fullest and not develop secondary disabilities.
Children with disabilities may be denied critical protections of early childhood such as immunization, birth registration because of the above factors as well as the deep stigma of disability. Many families are likely to give up if they are not supported at this very critical time.
Information, counseling and rehabilitation are crucial at this time for families to be able to take decisions and avail of services for their children. Inclusion in programs for all children such as the integrated child development services and other preschool services is equally critical for the development of the child. Through this program Astha work with parents of young children with disabilities to access rehabilitation services required, with information, knowledge and support.
Through this program ASTHA aims to
1. To partner with parents of young children with disabilities or at risk of disability and enable them through rehabilitation, information, knowledge and support.
2. Enable comprehensive assessments of children, getting to know their strengths and interests and the barriers they face.
3. Plan activities for children that can be done at home with the family and ensure their development.
4. Ensure that children access the rehabilitation services that they require: the assistive devices that they need and training to use them through regular follow ups.
5. Ensure that children with disabilities are part of all national and state level early childhood programs for all children by linking with all government agencies and programs in the area.
6. Ensure the inclusion of concerns of young children with disabilities in all policies for children.