India 2015

Last week Walkabout returned to India to distribute a container of wheelchairs with our local partner, APD in Bangalore. In total we fitted 257 wheelchairs to children and adults suffering from a variety of conditions ranging from cerebral palsy (CP) to spinal cord injuries (SCls) very often sustained as a result of traffic collisions and accidents at work.

The number of children born with CP in India is very high, especially in the poorer rural areas, where marriage within the same family, although in decline, is still fairly common and where antenatal care is negligent and many women give birth in unsuitable conditions. The problem is further aggravated by the fact that these parents often have no means or guidance whatsoever on how to take care of their disabled child, who will suffer unnecessarily from a variety of side effects such as severe postural deformities and malnourishment due to inadequate care. As for those spinal cord injured, their families also frequently have no knowledge on what care is required and consequently many suffer from life threatening infections and pressure sores that could have been easily avoided.

Fortunately, there are wonderful organisations doing amazing work to serve their communities, some of which we are privileged enough to work with. APD, for example, is doing an incredible job through their early intervention programme, where they liaise with local hospitals to identify CP cases at birth and give appropriate advice and support to the families, and through a spinal cord rehabilitation unit they operate. They also run an extraordinary livelihood programme where they train disabled people on a variety of vocational skills ranging from gardening to hospitality and computer skills. We visited their horticultural centre in the outskirts of the city where 150 disabled individuals learn gardening skills over 3 to 6 month courses and leave to a guaranteed job which APO sources for them.

We were deeply moved and humbled by everything we saw and learned during our stay in India. Walkabout truly hopes to continue to count on your generosity to be able to support these invaluable organisations through wheelchairs and rehabilitation.