I followed Manjulaben through the winding path to her home that is located behind the houses of the main village. While her husband was doing work on our farm, her daughters, Daksha and Ruthun were doing chores around our house. Even after going to India every year for eight years I never had the opportunity meet and talk to girls my own age. I’ve always spent time with the little ones, asking them questions and playing with them. I always knew the girls my age who did work for us had different lives, but it’s definitely different when you get to know them personally.
After taking several pictures of their home and relatives, the girls walked me home. I told them I would return again when I had time. We headed off to Mamta School and met more of the kids. After, we ended up travelling two hours to Idaar to visit two homes where four of the children from Mamta School were from. We brought Nikesh- 19 years old, Sapna- 8 years old, Kiran- 7 years old, and Kapila-15 years old with us. Nikesh and Sapna are siblings as well as Kiran and Kapila.
Nikesh (left) Sapna (in the pink)
As we all packed into the Jeep to go see their families, they were all so excited. First we went to Nikesh and Sapna’s home. Nikesh is paralyzed from the waist down while Sapna has trouble walking properly. Their home is located on the top of a hill and the road to get there is not paved or easy to find. If somebody was to get sick, no doctor would want to climb that far to heal a poor person. The parents were just happy that their children were getting an education, proper food, and shelter. I started wondering how hard it must be for the parents: having two disabled children, living on a hill several miles off of the main road, and struggling to make a proper living.
Next we went to Kiran and Kapila’s home. Kapila isn’t able to use her legs and also has difficulty using her hands. Since coming to Mamta School, she has learned how to eat with her hands and do day to day to activities. Although she still has some difficulties, she has come a long way. Kiran is able to use his hands, but doesn’t have the arm strength to hold himself up while walking. He has gotten better at using a stick to walk, but is still learning to use it all the time. I saw that their homes were similar and faced the same difficulties. Their homes were located in the same type of location and the kids had to be carried from the top of the hill to where the house is located.
Kapila being carried by her dad surrounded by her family
When we left, none of the students wanted to leave. Although it was hard for them to let their kids go several hours away, the parents know their children will never get an opportunity to get an education and live a normal life. Society, especially in villages, labels disabled kids as mentally incapable when it is just a physical disability. Mamta School provides these kids the hope that no matter what their disability, they are able to overcome it and have a normal life.