Pingalwara Society is the home of the underprivileged and destitute. The founder, Bhagat Puran Singh Ji, was of the firm opinion that the combined efforts of society were capable of achieving the impossible. This is truly evident with the care and provisions provided by the organisation as a whole. There are residents from all walks of life, with heart-rending stories, who are all trying to live a good life. On average, 7-8 patients join Pingalwara each month. Any destitute person found on the roadside is immediately picked up by the Pingalwara staff. Many are also received from Sri Darbar Sahib (the golden temple), where they are at times abandoned. There are many faces of Pingalwara and without it residents, patients and children would be homeless, struggling and begging on the streets.
There is lack of awareness, knowledge and special needs practitioners within the city of Amritsar and throughout Punjab. We carried out a mini pilot project where the initial plan was to help improve the services and facilities for such children and set up a communication base with tools such as sign language, pictures, symbols and other means of communicating. After assessing the environment and current processes, it was clear that basic foundations of communication were missing. After much discussion and dialogue it was decided that stimulation of senses was the first phase of communication and through introducing the sensory and soft play rooms they will enable the discovery of development. Much research was needed as this was the first facility of its kind in Punjab which proved to be difficult, but with God’s grace guidance and blessings bestowed upon us we have seen amazing results and miracles.
In a society where such children are deemed a low caste of humanity and a waste of space, they are abandoned and at times, left for dead. We have developed a strong and long-term sustained relationship with Pingalwara. With the progressive rate of advancement in education and approaches here in the UK, we are now transferring knowledge, expertise and practical ways to better the lives of the children, who currently do not have access to current methods and interventions, and lack basic opportunities.
We are mainly based at Pingalwara where regular therapy and educational work take place.
Developing and producing sensory stimulated rooms which are utilised for therapy sessions with children with severe disabilities.
Approximately 50-60 children receive treatments in massage and craniosacral therapy during the months of February/March & October/November each year.
There is access to soft lighting and fibre optics from the UK in these rooms, with the added effect of gentle music, creating an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity which enables the children to relax.
The equipment donated depends on the projects that the different teams are working on. Sensory stimulation donations included: mirrored boxes, tactile and visual boxes, fibre optics, a feelie ball sensory tub, body massage sensory bags and many other resources that aide visual, tactile, sound, touch and smell stimulation.
A number of seminars, workshops and training have taken place in the area of Autism, Craniosacral Therapy (massage), creative and arts therapy, Physiotherapy and different teaching methods.
Training for the staff at the special school – how one particular theme can be taught in a number of different ways and different dimensions. We donated the resource box full of teaching materials along with a manual for them to replicate with other topics and themes.
The children are taken out in the community, outings are organised by our volunteers using the systems and processes from the UK to make it possible to take groups of 30 – 40 children out at any given time.
Our work at Pingalwara continues as well as donations for resources, equipment and other necessities the children require.
A government-based initiative based in villages in the suburbs of Amritsar is making efforts to help children with special needs in a number of different areas of development. After securing funding to build resource rooms in mainstream schools in small villages, the Hope team developed a resource room and under the management of the team they successfully replicated another three rooms. We have been advising them on how to develop their toilet facilities as per examples from the UK. They have also requested our input and consultation for a potential 50 special needs centres to support parents and their children within the home and the centre. It was clear that this organisation is trying its utmost to help the children in their care and endeavour to work closely with us in the future.
The team at Hope is now supporting the organisation to build a purpose-built centre for children with special needs. Our team will support the layout, function and training needs of staff and children in the areas of education and therapy.
The teachers’ group in the UK developed packs for the teachers of SSA and training was provided by the team. An assessment tool to monitor the progress and development was introduced and continues to be developed.
The team successfully assessed 106 children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) & Disabilities. This has never been done before, so most of the team of volunteers were needed to translate and ensure each child was assessed according to ability in such a short space of time.
Teachers at SSA were supporting the Hope team to enable them to carry out assessments once the team had left India. The teachers were given examples of completed assessments and the documents were also translated into Punjabi (their mother tongue). Our volunteers left documents for teachers to complete on a weekly basis to monitor with document progression.
Our work continues with SSA.
The Bhai Fauja Singh Charitable Trust has now existed for over 20 years. It is dedicated to providing a home, schooling and social and material welfare to orphaned and abandoned children in Punjab. Without this dedicated care, these children would be left to suffer, abandoned and destitute. Some children have extended family but no one to take full responsibility.
Hope and Compassion support this charity and children each year especially in the winter months and provide clothes, shoes, blankets, stationery and other amenities they may need to see them through the hardest part of the year and make sure they are as comfortable as can be.
Previous work for this orphanage has included sealing holes in the walls where pigeons have made a home and left droppings; replaced all the glass windows and provided carpet in the prayer hall and replaced a new steel gate to prevent snakes and dogs entering from nearby fields. H & C have also donated a new play room where the children can now play with toys, books and stationery.
With the help from other charity we managed the ‘Langar Hall’ Project. Sewage from outdoor was entering the eating area so the drainage needed to be cleaned out and replaced along with children getting a new kitchen area and a clean area to sit and eat.
Hope and Compassion endeavours to work with educational institutes to develop specialised learning programmes in the area of special educational needs. In targeting such institutes we are able to highlight the opportunities available and the fulfilling career one can have in this area when working with children with special educational needs. We successfully ran autism awareness workshops and seminars with a senior lecturer from the University of Birmingham.
We wish to continue this work with staff from Khalsa College visiting the UK to build sustainable relationships, which would lead to the opening of a special needs school in the vicinity of the College. This would be the first of its kind and be both a place for education, training and employment.