KHEL visiting people with intellectual and associated differences
Ava Vihar, a project of Raphael Home
By Anirudh Bhatt
KHEL Photographer and Chronicler of Events
Mrs. Madhu Rawat, the Coordinator for Raphael Home in Dehradun, invited Lakshmi Devi Academy’s (LDA) 8th class students for an afternoon of volunteering. Ava Vihar, a project of Raphael, provides services to people with intellectual and associated differences from autism to cerebral palsy. Raphael was founded by renowned humanists Group Captain Lord Leonard Cheshire VC, and his wife, Baroness Sue Ryder, in April 1959.
With two of LDA’s teachers, Dinesh and Asha, I accompanied the 8th class students. We were warmly welcomed and given a brief explanation about the challenges faced by Raphael’s residents. These challenges are compounded by a lack of services available to the general population.
The first activity that our kids took part in was to help the intellectually challenged residents learn how to pack up a child’s bag for school. This was a fulfilling experience for the Raphael adults as they don’t often have an opportunity to do this for their kids. Like all parents, they want to look after their children but most of the time they are limited by their differences.
The second exercise was a relay race, but winning wasn’t the point. Many Raphael residents who are on the autism spectrum want to interact with people who aren’t differently abled but they don’t get this opportunity very often because it can be disturbing to them to go out onto the crowded and noisy roads of Dehradun. Our 8th class students ran the races with them, gently encouraging them to tag the next person in the relay.
In the third activity, our students helped the residents who had physical challenges to walk holding a balloon between their knees. The purpose of this it to help them develop balance and coordination. Because each resident had an LDA student to help them, they all were able to complete the task.
For the final exercise, an announcer gave an instruction and the LDA students had to figure out how to explain the instruction. Although our 8th class kids could understand the instructions just fine, explaining those instructions in a simplified manner so that Raphael’s residents could also understand them was challenging.
Many of Raphael’s residents are elderly and have no one else to look after or visit them. There were all very happy to be with our kids for the afternoon. LDA’s kids benefit, too, by learning to be patient and respectful towards people who are differently abled. It’s good for kids to develop a sense of giving back to their community.
We shared some snacks with Raphael’s residents, and then it was time to go back to LDA.
Anirudh Bhatt, fondly known as Keshav, has been a KHEL volunteer for most of his life. Recognising his potential, KHEL hired him to be our Chief Photographer and Chronicler of Events at Lakshmi Devi Academy (LDA), KHEL’s school for under served children in Dehradun, India. His easy going manner puts our kids at ease and they love to pose when their ‘big brother’ is behind the camera. Keshav has lived his entire life in Shiv Puri Colony, growing up with an in depth knowledge of the community and its needs. He has a B.Com in Accounting and certification in Tally, the virtual cloud integration software.