Over 20 years ago, the community project director at Herbertpur Christian Hospital had a son born with cerebral palsy. The baby had a seizure the following day, and the director was told his son might not survive. While agonizing in the middle of the night, he saw a sign that said, “God’s grace is sufficient for you.” He decided that if his son lived, he would name him Anugrah, which is Hindi for grace.
Anugrah did survive, and as the director sought to get help for him as he grew, he came to see the terrible stigma attached to having a disability in India. He gathered other parents together who had children with disabilities, and they started a support group. In 2001, the official EHA “Anugrah Program” began with 26 children from this group. They started with one therapist who went house to house giving therapy sessions. The director began to see changes in the attitudes of the parents as their children began to learn new skills, such as walking. They had hope for the first time.
Over time, the program has grown out into the communities, with 160 children receiving help in four village centers. Mostly they work with children with mental disabilities such as Down Syndrome because they are difficult to mainstream into schools. Several years ago, they were able to build the Anugrah Learning Center, a beautiful building which offers services such as therapy, medication distribution, special education, and sports activities five days a week. They also send out teams for home-based care.
Their work also has expanded to partner with the Disabled People’s Organization in helping 600 adults with disabilities. They raise their own funding, organize camps, set up rallies for awareness, advocate with the government to make sure they get documentation for benefits, and help them get jobs.
The extensive impact of this program that started with one caring father is amazing.