How many children do you have at Deepam?

27 children and youth attend our special education program for the full day.

Babies and small children come with their parents as outpatients for ambulant therapy sessions, either daily or several times per week.

Over the years we have worked with several hundred children and their parents. Some came only once for assessment, others come several times a week and some have been with us for many years. A few of them attend main stream schools and come to us for their therapy sessions. Not every child comes regularly to Deepam. If they live too far away we can help only with advice. Some need medical care and we help them with special investigations, operations or appliances. Sometimes the whole family needs support and we help for nutrition and supplements; in some cases for housing, training or admission into a boarding school. Every child and their family have different needs and need to be addressed individually.


What happens with the children who grow into adults?
The more skilled ones we can gradually integrate into the outside world. Some find training or a work place with our help.

Some of the weaker ones, who are mentally challenged, are impossible to integrate in the outside world. They have poor concentration, limited perception skills and often poor fine motor skills. They need constant supervision and support. Some of them look physically mature but might have the mind of a small child. Still they need to be addressed differently from the smaller ones. For the present, we keep them at Deepam because there is no other option for them. A few of them who have been coming since the very beginning of our project have made a lot of progress, but there is not much possibility to make further improvements. We cannot send them out because for many of them there is little help at home, not even sufficient food and health care. Many times we have discussed if we should separate the oldest from the younger ones and divide the program into two parts. As we have managed to find suitable solutions outside for the older ones with better skills the ones with very limited skills who are not “productive” are left. Most of these young adults need social care rather than work or training. For several years we have experimented with making floating candles and greeting cards. This requires good fine motor skills which only a few of them have. To run two day care groups, we would need to split our patients and team which would mean that more funds would have to be raised, more suitable staff members found, and more space made available. When we are ready for this step, it will probably happen.


Do you offer boarding?
We do not want to offer boarding. In India, many parents are ready to give away their disabled child to institutions to care for. In most cases, this is due to lack of any support from community and society. But there is hardly any good quality boarding available where proper care is taken of children with a disability. We believe in leaving the responsibility for the children with their parents, and we support them to the best we can in this difficult task.


How are disabled children accepted by their society?
This can be quite different from case to case depending on the family situation. Some of our children get excellent care; they are lovingly treated at home and move freely around in the village. Others are neglected and lack the basics such as food and health care. A few families feel ashamed to be seen with a child who is disabled and lock them inside the house. We faced cases where we could not help because of poor cooperation from parents, sometimes superstitions, and sometimes pressure of family members. Especially children with multiple disabilities, who need to be fed and nursed, have been occasionally left purposely to die as the family could not cope with the situation. It is not unusual that fathers blame mothers for having a “useless” child and even leave the family for another wife. At the same time, we see parents who come frequently with their children for treatment, and fathers who do their very best for their daughters.


How is Deepam funded and what is our budget?
We are entirely funded by donations, mainly from private donors and a few smaller organizations. (See also under “Donations”). As we grow our budget is also rising. We have only made new developments when we could sustain them financially. In the recent years, the prices for basic goods in India have risen enormously. Therefore, our monthly expenses keep rising. We must raise the salaries of our employees so that they can keep up with the hike in living costs. Our monthly statement shows our biggest expenses are for food, medicines, transport (diesel for our van) and the salaries of our employees. Our present monthly budget is around 300000 Indian Rupees which is equivalent to about 4000 Euro. This amount does not include buying of equipment, major repairs, building maintenance or extensions.


Are donations for projects still required since India became a rich economy?
We can only say that funds from foreign countries are needed. India is vast country with a huge population and many problems on all levels. Unfortunately, wealth is distributed unequally. The middle class has benefited the most from the economic growth in the past years. The majority of the population is poor and been left out. In this region many people live below the poverty line, have a lot of debts and pay outrageous interest rates to money lenders. There are private organizations, NGOs and other groups who raise foreign donations for social projects all over India which help relieve the extreme strain on the poor population.

We have helped several of our children to obtain an identity card indicating their degree of disability. With this card they are eligible to receive a monthly allowance of Rs. 1000 (about 16 Euro) from the local government.