Rehabilitation of the Challenged

Community Based Rehabilitation Program (CBR)
Physically challenged people have the capacity to lead independent lives. However, in today’s society, they are perceived more as a burden, especially in rural India. Seeing the sheer number of such challenged children and noting how families find it difficult to cope with disabilities, BCT took the initiative of creating its Community Based Rehabilitation Program (CBR) 1992.

Genesis of CBR
Survey revealed that rural areas had approximately 665 challenged people in BCT’s operational area of 40 villages. With a sponsorship from MIBLOU, BCT took upon itself the responsibility to rehabilitate them. The first phase was of selecting the right trainers. These trainers were then provided specialized training by experts like Sri Gautam Choudhary (SANCHAR, Calcutta). In Phase II, the needs of the children were assessed. Learning modules were designed as per individual requirements.

Elements of CBR
The approach of Community Based Rehabilitation was established with the idea that challenged children should be rehabilitated within the community they live in. therefore, family as well as neighbours were first sensitised on how to handle people with disabilities.
With this novel approach, the elements of CBR were also tailor-made to suit the concept. The principal elements of CBR thus were:

  • Health:

Studies indicated that most challenged people suffered from malnutrition. After identifying these people, BCT provided guidelines on how a nutritious diet could easily be provided at home with the locally available food.
Physio-therapy and small exercises to suit the individual needs of children were also specified and mothers were trained in giving physio-therapy.

Finally, wherever surgical intervention could help lessen disability, it was provided. Aides and appliances to overcome the disabilities are also given.


No. Disability Operations Calipers Artificial Limbs 3-wheel Vehicles Hearing machines
1 Polio 468 396 150 265
2 Hearing / Speech Impairment 54


  • Wealth:

Providing them opportunities for self-reliance were then explored. Training was provided on activities that children could identify with and take up. Various income-generating activities like kitchen gardens, nurseries, making paper covers and backyard poultry were identified for these children. Micro credit loans were loans were extended to these people and the repayment schedules are very strictly adhered to. Repayment rate is at 100%.

The table shows the:

No. Disability Horticulture Fishery Grocery Poultry Cycle Shop Silversmith Milk Total
1 Polio 29 13 6 30 1 1 9 89
2 Mental Disorder 3 – 3
Total 29


  • Wisdom:

The importance of literacy was highlighted and children were provided study options so that they can read and write and do maths.

Some of the children were encouraged to join the local schools run by both BCT as well as Government. Few of them are now pursuing their Bachelor’s degree also!
Details as follows:

S. No Nature of Disability Number
1 Polio 264
2 Hearing and Speech impaired 126
3 Mental Retardation 16

Having worked with all the Challenged people in these 40 villages, BCT started working with these people from other villages in the neighbouring areas also.
BCT has facilitated these Challenged people to avail Government programs. Here’s a snap shot view of interventions made, so far:

No. Disability Medical Certificates Issued Rail and Bus passes Total
1 Polio 265 235 500
2 Deaf/Speech impaired children 112 112 224
3 Mental Disorder 126 126 252
Total 503 473 976


After having worked for 8 years on the Community based, BCT noticed that there are many who have graduated from neglected, self-pitying people to confident and self-caring persons. Most of the people afflicted by polio, can be further rehabilitated by imparting vocational skills especially tailoring and embroidery. The training for the first batch of 18 Challenged persons got started in 2000.

With a benevolent donation from the family of Dr. Lakshmi Venkatesan & Sri Raghu Rajagopalan, Sri PV. Shankar, Mrs. Janaki Kannan, Sri PV. Vaidyalingam IRAS, a new center “Sri PV. Venkatesan Centre for the Challenged” got started at our Panchadarla Farm Complex in 2004.
This Centre provide youth afflicted with polio with training, in consonance with our Education motto: “Value based, skill oriented, rurally biased, self-reliant.” The Challenged youth did not had the benefit of school education, were selected and were brought to the Centre for training in Literacy (through the play-way methodology that BCT has developed), Tailoring and also kitchen gardening.

The fourth batch has just passed out and so far 79 Challenged people have been rehabilitated through this Centre. All the 79 of them are earning an average of Rs. 2000/month through their self-employment units, in their own villages. In the fourth batch, even the Speech and Hearing Impaired youth were selected while the earlier batches were only for person afflicted by polio.

Apart from literacy, vocational skill and kitchen gardening, these youth were also given training in the speech therapy. Now some the youth are now able to speak. The twinkle in the eyes of these youth speaking few words is amazing. The expression on parents’ faces on hearing their children speak for the first time was priceless!

Impact of CBR

The CBR started off in various villages and led to impact different sections of the society. It helped empower students, making them more confident and self-sufficient. It impacted parents, helping them interact with their children better and take pride in them.

Finally, it sensitised the society that had so far neglected these children and proved to be an eye-opener.
One of the unique experiments that BCT started was the “Calf Exchange Program.” As a part of this program, BCT granted a female heifer calf to each disabled child. With the help of the parents, the calf was raised and milk from the cow was utilised for self-consumption and sold to the local dairy. The only condition was that the first-born female calf born to the offered cow should be handed to BCT, and in-turn would be passed on to another disabled child. 20 children benefited from this program and the program continues even today.
The group of motivating staff, supportive parents and a conductive environment have all aided BCT in making disabled children self-sufficient. The initiative has helped many children regain their lives and enriched societies in more ways than one. We hope to continue augmenting the program to make it better in whatever ways that are possible.

Success stories
All children who attended the CBR program, went on to lead happier, healthier lives. Here are a couple of case studies.
Mr. Dhoni Nookaraju, Aged: 23 years, Pudimadaka village, Atchutapuram mandal
Dhoni Nookaraju is suffering from Muscular Dystrophy. He was diagnosed with the disease at the age of 12. Though this condition cannot improve, he is being provided the best course of medicine available to try to make him fit.

In 2004, BCT provided him with an interest-free loan of Rs. 1,500 to start a small shop in his village, that he was able to repay within six months. Three years later, BCT helped him access a loan of Rs. 3,000 from the State Government’s Welfare of Handicapped. He improved his shop and brought in more items to sell. He is able to make a surplus of Rs. 600/month. His mother is 76 years old and cannot carry Nookaraju to the shop and hence his neighbours carry him there everyday. His health condition vacillates but he still tries to come to work most of the time. However, when his condition is bad, he does not open his shop.
Earlier, he was very dejected but by starting the shop, he has something to look forward to everyday, while being aware of the fact that his condition is only going to deteriorate and that there is no cure!

Mr. Chadharam Shankar Rao, Aged: years Ganaparti village, Atchutapuram mandal.
Chadharam Shankar Rao is a polio patient but was able to complete Intermediate (12th standard). He was jobless, as he did not have any skill. So he enrolled in Government run tailoring training programs but did not acquire even rudimentary skills. At BCT, Shankar Rao was able to master tailoring skills in two years and provided a sewing machine on a no- interest loan basis.

His earning started with Rs 50 per day and improved to Rs 250 per day. With this he was able to repay the loan within the given deadline. He is now able to earn his livelihood and also take care of his whole family. Shankar also learnt on how to raise kitchen gardens so that he could augment his tailoring income.
He was further facilitated to improve his communication skills and personality. He is able to stand up to the society and prove his capability. Through his medical certificate, he got free bus and rail passes and also government pension.
He has become a role model to other disabled people in his village. 6 Challenged girls from his village have joined in rehabilitation program.