Gramin Lok Seva Mandal (GLSM)

Project Brief:
Project Type: Residential School (description)
Primary Focus: children with disabilities (description)

Secondary Focus: children of dalits/tribals

Area: Rural
Supporting Chapter Contact: Boston/MIT
Status: completed - requirements ended
Project Steward: Nikhil Mittal
Project Partner(s):
Other Contacts:
Project Address: , Gramin Lok Seva Mandal, 104-5 Harata Apartment,,Near Dr Ambedkar Statue,,
Tel: 0091-21-48221413
Stewarding Chapter: Boston/MIT
Jul 2008Boston/MITUSD 3325

Total = $3325

Gramin Lok Seva Mandal (GLSM) is a Gandhian organization based in Karjat, Maharashtra. They run a home for hearing impaired (also speech impaired) and mentally challenged children from surrounding adivasi villages. ASHA Boston/MIT has decided to fund the school, as also 4 workshops on special education which GLSM will conduct this year. They plan to hold one workshop each for: teachers, daycare workers, parents, and community leaders and elected officials.
1. Teach teachers about the psychological and pedagogical issues associated with teaching physically challenged children. Also to try to make schools adopt a more welcoming approach towards special children during the admissions process
2. Help parents accept their child’s disability
3. Find opportunities for their students to showcase their talent
4. Raise public awareness about the fact that physically challenged children can also be contributing members of society, especially with the idea of increasing the employment of these children when they finish school
Gramin Lok Seva Mandal was started in 1985, inspired by the work and thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave. It was registered in 1986. Founder Mr. Subhash Patil had been living in the Pavnar Ashram founded by Vinoba Bhave since 1978. After Vinoba Bhave passed away in 1983, Mr. Patil decided to move to Karjat where Vinobaji was born, and undertake the work of setting up a school for physically challenged children from adivasi villages that dot the hills adjacent to the Sahyadri range that passes by this region.

In these regions, physically challenged children were perceived as a burden by their families. The education department in this district did not support special education for these children. These individuals had to be dependent on someone else for their livelihood throughout their lives. The children, of course, were not admitted to regular schools. So we decided to teach these children ourselves. We requested the Rigad Jilha Parishad and the Khopoli Municipal Corporation for a room in one of the schools, which was granted. We then set about the task of locating physically challenged children (PCC) from surrounding villages, talking to their parents, and eventually, bringing some of them to live with us in our house. Others that lived close by were day students. We requested stores in the areas for contributions in terms of food and educational materials, and were able to get some donations. Thus we began the work of educating these children. Eventually, we also received aid from PPSSM (Punyatma Prabhakar Sharma Seva Mandal) and AID Boston. We were also given a house by a local donor where the children could live.

Currently we have 18 children in this residence. Once they have acquired basic language and lip reading skills, these children go to a regular school nearby. This whole process of integration is a great booster of their self-confidence. After a few years, they go back to live with their families and possibly continue their education in other schools if their family so desires. We also try to impart some vocational education at our residential school – sewing, making sooth, making greeting cards and other art/craftwork.

Going back, crucially, once our students started going to the regular school they started interacting with the ‘normal’ children. Some also performed well in the classroom and/or outside. For example, though hearing-impaired children cannot speak, they do well at math and drawing. Their progress at school not only boosted their self-confidence, but also demonstrated their abilities to their parents, neighbors, and peers. This led to a big change in the way that people living in this region perceive these children. This is exactly what we have been striving for. If this change in perception could be made to happen in all the adivasi villages in Karjat taluka, it would pave the way for the all-round improvement in the quality of life for physically challenged individuals living here.

- Subhash Patil