Ashish Center

Ashish Center is a day program for the mentally and physically challenged in New Delhi, India. They call the children differently abled. The ages of the children are from about 3 to 25. Children have autism, learning disability, mental retardation, etc. The program runs between 9 am to 1 pm. Children are brought to the center mainly by parents. However, in the slum branch, the staff picks them up. I met with Mrs. Geeta who was the director of the center.

It was not easy to find the place. We went around passing the actual building several times. However, we did find the place eventually, and it was right on the busy road. Located in the town where it was easily accessible to the locals.

It was one of the residences that they had converted to the center, using 2 buildings, one strictly for physical therapy. They have the main center and a branch they had opened recently in July. The center was open, fresh air coming from all sides of the building. Children were in each class performing their activities and learning. Some children were into writings and readings. Others were in training with fine motor skills. They had pre-vocational training where they were making hand-crafted jewelries and selling them.

     

I had the chance to purchase one of their ear rings.

One thing I was impressed was the one-on-one section they had. It was a corner where it had a divider so that the child will not be distracted by others. Mrs. Geeta mentioned that one-on-one is important because otherwise, children are neglected, she emphasized the importance of individual attention.

The children are taught in groups of 4 by one teacher and one assistant teacher. Occupational therapy is given three times a week. Speech Therapy is also provided for each child. Behavior Therapy and vocational education also provided. Physical education, Aerobics, tae-kwon-do and gymnastics are also part of their curriculum.

The slum branch was located just few minutes away from the main center. We walked through the neighborhood to find out one of the doors entered to the branch. It was dark just like other houses in Delhi to prevent the sun from warming the rooms. They had the fan in the ceiling to keep them cool and florescent light on the wall. They had basically only one room with a large foyer. Everything was stuffed in one closet which was not too big, but had shelves that were sturdy. The place was simple, not many decoration. They had floor tiles and placed one sheet of clothes over it. All activities are done on the floor, just like other Indians do, here. They ate, positioned, and did their activities on the floor.

They had 3 staff to 4 children, which is really great. One child had a seizure while I was visiting and the staff had pulled him out of the chair and placed him down on the floor, but I was surprised that the child was banging his head on the hard surface of the floor when he was jerking.

I spoke to the program coordinator and we both shared the same issues. The director mentioned that she has to do everything including getting funds and grants. She herself has a child with differently abled and she mentioned that she burned out recently.

Here in India, you hardly see anyone on a wheelchair. When I went to Agra, people carried the disabled on their back, like a piggy back ride. I found one gentleman on a wheeled vehicle where he would use his hands to propel the wheels. I also saw many disabled who could not walk just shuffling through the dusty roads of New Delhi. They had no shoes of course and their pants were so torn from scraping the roads of Delhi. I also saw one man who was moving by sitting on the board with wheels attached. But in general, the roads are not meant for the physically challenged or the elders.

As seen in the above picture, the pedestrian roads are about a foot above the commercial roads. It requires an effort for even the abled bodies to climb up the pedestrian road. However, I was told that you would appreciate the height since during the monsoon season when the rain hits hard, the road is flooded with water and the pedestrian road is the only dry section you can walk. So people walk on the commercial roads and hardly use the pedestrian road. However, I was so dread scared to walk on the main road not knowing when the cars may hit me from behind.

http://www.ashishindia.org/
Ashish Centre, F-3 (Opposite Ramlila Grounds), Vikaspuri, New Delhi - 110 018
Ph: 28533444, 28533445