A labour of love
The Tauri Foundation was established by parents who wanted their child, and other children with disabilities, to grow up in more inclusive society. Working to establish equal rights and improved quality of life for disabled children in Bangladesh, the Foundation runs a number of initiatives and projects.
One of the ways the Foundation aims to achieve their goals is through a community-based rehabilitation (CBR) program that is focused on promoting mobility, education and income (MIE). This program is targeted at children with disabilities, and their families, in rural Rajshahi.
The CBR program provides support to children and their families in a number of ways.
The Tauri Foundation discovered that poor families in rural areas had very limited understanding of how to support children with disabilities. In response, in 2008, they commenced screening camps and home visits to identify the children with disabilities that required therapeutic interventions.
They began conducting assessments to determine the child’s needs, including assistive devices such as wheelchairs, standing frames, specialised seating, hearing aids, special shoes and other devices.
Now, home-based physiotherapy and assisted daily living (ADL) skills training are other services offered by the program.
Currently 55 children with CP are receiving therapy in the home, which can be a daily occurrence in some cases.
As the team has limited capacity, they train caregivers and other locals in therapy techniques that help ensure the frequency of treatment can be maintained.
It’s qualified physiotherapists and occupational therapists that provide routine training and supervision to these supporters.
“In our project area, most of the parents are poor and uneducated. The parents were not aware about physiotherapy and its benefit but we have introduced therapy in our project,” explains Tauri Foundation Executive Director, Ashfaque-UL-Kabir.
The CBR program also provides home modifications, with financial support from project sponsors KRFC, Norway and BACHAO, USA.
The installation of access ramps and widening of doors allows children with disabilities to have improved mobility around their homes.
Toilets are also modified to be disability friendly. “Such toilets relieved the children from hazardous, unhygienic and uncomfortable toileting,” says Ashfaque.
To insure families can provide the best support possible for their children, the Tauri Foundation also has a livelihood support program as part of their community based rehabilitation.
This program includes skills training and the necessary equipment for work such as tailoring, mobile shops and farming.
Since 2008, the Tauri Inclusive School has been providing tuition-free education to underprivileged children of all abilities in Rajshahi.
The school follows primary level national curriculum and children with disabilities receive additional classroom assistance. The school gives children with CP the opportunity to socialise and receive an education in a fun, supportive environment.
“It results in improved social development and academic outcomes for all learners, especially children with disabilities. As it provides opportunity to get exposed to the real world, it leads to the development of social skills and better social interactions,” says Ashfaque.
“It also provides a platform for the non-disabled peers to adopt positive attitudes and tolerance. The intention of the inclusive school is to create an environment where children with and without disabilities will learn under one umbrella for an inclusive society in future.”
The Foundation is also dedicated to educating the community about disabilities and runs a number of awareness workshops, seminars and meetings to address children’s rights and disability issues.
Promoting a brighter future
The services offered by the CBR program through the promotion of mobility, income and education have made an immense impact on the children with CP and their families. They can now see the potential future for their children, and it’s a bright one.
“Now we can dream for my child with disabilities and family” – Parent of child with CP.
The Tauri Foundation also have this dream.
Currently under construction in Rajshahi is the Tauri Multipurpose Complex on Disability. It will be a purpose-built facility housing a wide range of services, including:
- a special hospital
- rehabilitation services
- a special and inclusive school
- employment orientation training
- income generation services
- legal, awareness and advocacy services.
“The people with special needs deserve an opportunity from society so that they are not dependent on others for their living,” says Ashfaque.
“We fervently urge all to come forward and contribute in building the complex, not only to benefit the disabled people but also for building a humane and dynamic society for all of us.”
Ashfaque says we may not forget that the development of society and the country as a whole is not possible by depriving and sidelining almost 10 per cent of the of the total population of the country who are disabled or have special needs.
It is because of the Tauri Foundation that rural children in Bangladesh can now see a brighter future for themselves.