MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
At the Child Guidance Clinic we cater to the mental and emotional needs of children. The children are victims of their circumstances who have faced trauma, physical and emotional abuse, or come from broken families and are orphaned or abandoned. Being confined to one room or one building in the closed institution, away from family or loved ones adds to the already existing trauma faced by the child. The children have self harming tendencies, anxiety, depression, anger issues, and behavioural problems – like addiction and are often violent.
Through our mental health services we offer a safe, non-judgmental space to help ease their stay in the institution, enable them to heal themselves and inspire them to take charge of their life outside the institution. We also counsel the family and create a support system for the child so that when he steps out he is able to reintegrate into the family and community.
Ashiyana Mental Health team creates an enabling culture through which they enable young people to:
- restore confidence
- discover their abilities and potential
- have choice to make decisions regarding their life
- reconstruct their self identity
The Child Guidance Clinic is run by two professional psychologists and a visiting psychiatrist.
The Children’s Home is a place of safety for runaway children rescued from the streets, missing and abandoned children, children who are victims of trafficking, child labour and domestic violence. Among these children are also children who are from neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and Nepal. The sheer number of these children is overwhelming.
We assist the probation officers in repatriating children of Bangladesh and Nepal and have built their capacities to handle such cases independently. We also assist the officers in tracing the address of local children who have special needs, are hearing and speech impaired or differently abled. So far, Ashiyana has repatriated 120+ children
Our education programme encourages children to think of life beyond the institution and to plan for their futures. We support them to re-engage with the formal education system by tutoring and helping them to pass their 10th and 12th Standard exams. We often see children idling away their time without a goal. This project not only engages the children but gives them hope to change the trajectory of their life.
Children in the Observation Home have either had no education or have dropped out of school. A small percentage of children were studying while they were sent to the Observation home. For admissions in any basic vocational training program 8th pass is a minimum education requirement.
The education project aims at the following:
- To assist children who are in the formal education system to continue their education without a gap year.
- To encourage and enable children who have dropped out of school to reintegrate and appear for 10th and 12th std.
- To encourage those children who do not know how to read and write to become literate.
One of the boys when asked in 2014, why he wanted to study said “so that I can find a good wife” but today after he has completed his 10th std, he dreams of making a career for himself either in the Army or the social sector. Our education project starts within the institution and continues when the children step out.
We assist children in taking admission in National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) and Maharashtra State Board Education, provide monetary support for admission fees, arrange volunteer teachers and help children prepare for the exams. We have also partnered with King’s learning Institute for regular short courses in english speaking for our boys.
Articles and blogs related to this project :Caravan magazine
When we asked the children in a circle “Who inspires you and who would you like to be when you grow up?” The answer went as – pass, pass, pass, my mother, pass, pass…
This realization that most of the children we work with do not have a positive role model in their life seeded the inspiring talks project. The aim is to bring people from humble background who have transformed their lives to share their life stories. Children relate to the struggles, problems, successes of the speakers and understand that it is possible to break the cycle of poverty and violence.
So far we have had speakers like Laxman Gole an ex-inmate of Arthur road Jail who completed turned around his life after reading Gandhiji’s Autobiography, Lijo Chacko who summited Mt, Everest, Vipin Heero – a singer, actor and musician and more.
ARTS AND EXPRESSIONS
Craft circles: are conducted twice a month for girls and boys of the children’s home in association with Mumbai Mobile Creche. Katta Babu, a smiling grandfather lovingly teaches the children how to fold paper into puppets, lanterns, mobiles, birds and much more while talking about life, values, behaviour and sharing many stories.
Dance Classes: Twice a week, children move their body to grooving music and dance their hearts out. The dance sessions have been a big hit amongst the children and bring a lot of happiness to their otherwise idle day. Tushar, our dance teacher from the Happy Feet Dance Academy, is a great role model and along with teaching dance he has inculcated values of compassion, love, hard work, perseverance, punctuality and patience amongst the children.
STAFF CIRCLES & TRAININGS
To create a listening and sharing space for staff and Mental health professionals working at Umerkhadi Observation Home and Children’s Home. It is a space to share challenges and learnings related to cases and find ways to support each other’s work .
HEALTH AND HYGIENE
Ashiyana’s work in health and hygiene is mainly to meet the unmet needs of the children as and when required. In 2014, upon seeing increase in infectious skin diseases among children, we started conducting skin clinic (twice a month) and health camps. In the past, we have taken children to the hospital and organized clean up drives with the help of volunteers. Currently, we organize haircutting drives, dental camps and support with medicines, fruits and eggs to maintain the nutrition level of the children.
Sunday Funday is our volunteer-run program that started with a simple dream of bringing colour to bare white walls of the home. We ask volunteers to make children’s Sunday a ‘FUN’ day, since that is the day no teachers or staff are present in the home. The idea is to create a space for volunteers and children to interact, share and learn and enable the children to spend their Sunday creatively and constructively. Activities range from art, craft, music, dance, theatre, storytelling, sports and movie screenings.
So Far, over 250 volunteers have joined us to spend their Sundays where we have painted the white walls of the Home, conducted craft activities, theatre, singing, celebrated festivals, played sports and screened plenty of films for the children.
Events: On special occasions
During festivals or special occasions like Teacher’s day or Children’s Day, we conduct events, which are organized and facilitated by the children. These events enable the children to learn to work together in groups, trust each other and tap in to their own leadership skills and strengths.