Surya & Karthik, two boys of ages 9 & 3, respectively, live in a semi-urban slum of Coimbatore district, Tamil Nadu. Most of the families living in this locality fall below the poverty line and meet their daily needs through their daily wage labour. They live in thatched houses while sharing one toilet every 200 houses.
Surya and Karthik’s childhood hasn’t been easy as they were both born with speech and hearing impairment along with the down syndrome. Soon after Surya’s birth, their parents parted ways as their mother couldn’t take the pressure of nurturing two children with disabilities. She took the eldest child, Surya and Kartik’s sister along with her and settled down in another village.
Drug Abuse in Children: The Cause
Surya and Karthik’s father, Mr Damodaran, was emotionally shattered after the departure of his wife but he always looked toward his children and found a reason to continue living with hope. He worked hard to take care of them along with the support of his mother who managed the house and children when he went out to work. Although Mr Damodaran’s income was unstable and meagre, he tried his best to provide for his children.
Due to the lack of information about access to services for children with disabilities, both Surya and Karthik were left idle at home throughout the day. They didn’t go to school and were extremely vulnerable to drug abuse as the surrounding area had many cases of adolescents buying and selling drugs. Their speech and hearing impairment along with their down syndrome made it worse in terms of not being able to express themselves.
How does CIF protect these children from drug abuse?
Our CIF staff identified the family in August 2022 during a baseline study in the area. r
Upon understanding the case in question, the project team worked to help the children as they were trained under the project for the identification and care of children and persons with disabilities.
In September 2022, Surya and Karthik along with 10 other children and their families were introduced to the District Disability Administrative Official (DDAO), a state government official. Their case histories were collected and a request was made for their Unique Disability Identification Card (UDI). UDI is a state government initiative, which will enable them in accessing government services for children with disabilities. These include a monthly contribution of INR 1500 per child, free health care services and support in the provision of disability assistive devices.
In November 2022, both Surya and Karthik successfully received their acknowledgement for their applications. They were confirmed for being eligible for the UDI and they received their cards.
Our team is conducting regular follow-up sessions with Mr Damodaran to ensure he is availing the under UDI for his 2 sons. Additionally, we are also on the lookout for a special school for the 2 children and working out the logistics for transportation as there are no such schools nearby. The project is also working on facilitating Mr Damodaran with access to additional livelihood options to help increase his income.
The biggest change in the life of the beneficiaries is their access to government schemes supporting their disability. They can now avail the remittance, free health care services and assistive support, reducing the financial burden on Mr Damodaran.
Once their special school is identified and they are enrolled, their risk of being exploited, as a result of being out of school will also reduce.
“After getting our UDI card we are eligible to get all the benefits provided by the Government for my children. That is a big step ahead towards their welfare”. shares Mr Damodaran with joy.
A ray of hope
The awareness and support of the project in this tough situation have given hope to the family. Now, they want their children to go to a special school.