By Mr. Oliver C. Caleb, Diocese of Peshawar.
The Peshawar Diocese as the Body of Christ promotes Peace and Reconciliation through its various Health, Education and Welfare programmes, which are excellent examples of ‘minority helping the majority’, but the Mental Health Centre, Peshawar, bears a unique witness, and provides its services to all without discrimination of cast and creed.
The Mental Health Centre, Peshawar is a training and resource base in the field of Special Education and Community-Based Rehabilitation. Its facilities are utilised by the Government and various NGOs. Various schools of Nursing, Peshawar’s Khyber Medical College, and various facilities of the University of Peshawar send their students for internship to the centre. Advocacy Services for the disabled persons reach beyond the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan.
The main services include:
1) Assessment and various therapies for handicapped children
2) Assessment and physiotherapy for physically disabled persons
3) Behaviour and Speech therapy
4) Orthotics and rehabilitation-aids workshop
5) Vocational training for mentally handicapped adults
6) Personnel training and Family Counseling
7) Information, publication and advisory services.
The special education school caters for mentally and handicapped children. It is a day care centre, and has room for 32 pupils. The degree of handicap varies from mild to moderate. It has separate sections for boys and girls. This is the only centre that caters for the severely mentally handicapped children and grown-ups. A student teacher ratio of 1:5 is maintained.
Pick-n-drop facility for the school children is available. The policy of the centre is to involve families and communities of the disabled persons in education, training and rehabilitation efforts, thus enabling them to carry on the development programme/work at homes and at the community level.
Those who live in remote areas, and/or do not reside in the catchment area are offered ‘Home-Based’ therapy programme. Short term orientation courses about management of the disabled persons at home are offered for parents and close relatives. In all the rehabilitation efforts top priority is given to human dignity, thus improving the quality of life of the disabled persons.
The children are taught social and academic skills, sports, leisure, various therapies, reading writing and daily living skills. Vocational training, inclusive education and mainstreaming of the mildly handicapped children is also a priority.
The Counseling Services are also an integral part of the services extended by the centre. Counseling services are provided both to the disabled persons and their families. Counseling helps them to overcome the disabling affects of the impairments, thus it promote a culture of co-operation and tolerance among the family members. It also helps families to adopt positive attitudes. Thus, counseling prevents/helps families to avoid marital breakdown after the birth of a handicapped child.
This centre, which is also known as ‘The little town of Bethlehem’ has had a smooth ride for the past 30 years. But the recent global economic recession has not spared anyone, and Pakistan is no exception. Charitable organisations like ‘Mental Health Centre’ have really been hit hard. The past couple of years have been quite turbulent, particularly because the survival of such organisations depends on the generosity of its friends and well wishers.
We thank God that the services offered by our Mental Health Centre didn’t collapse, but they have been badly affected by the sky-high prices of the fuel and of the other commodities. It used to provide its services six days a week, but now the special school is open only for five days a week. This means of course that the disabled community and their families are suffering. Thankfully the Physiotherapy Clinic at the Centre is still providing its services six days a week, and throughout the year.
The Mental Health Centre is a survivor, and intends to survive, whatever situation may arise. All it needs is the support, co-operation and goodwill of the people with positive attitudes towards disabled people.
For more information about the work of the Diocese click here.