Hesperian Health Guides
How Small, Local Programs Spread to New Villages and Areas
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Bottom-up programs tend to spread through popular demand. As the news of the program travels from family to family and town to town, even a small program based in a single village can reach far in its impact. For example, Project PROJIMO is based in a village of less than 1,000 and has a staff of a dozen disabled villagers. In its first 4 years, PROJIMO has attended to the needs of over 1,000 disabled children from over 100 towns and villages and the slums of several large cities. (Since roughly one child in every 100 people is moderately to severely disabled, PROJIMO is in effect serving a population of over 100,000.)
There are various ways that bottom-up or ‘people-centered’ programs tend to spread. We speak of their growth as ‘organic’ because they grow and spread in a living, whole sort of way, like seeds into trees.
In Project PROJIMO, some of the young people from neighboring communities, who first come for rehabilitation, decide to stay and to work for a while in the program. In the process they learn skills which they can use to help in the rehabilitation of other persons when they return to their own communities. In some cases, other villages and village-based health programs have sent young disabled persons to apprentice with PROJIMO for several months, in order to help start similar activities on return to their communities.
Another people-centered program that started small and has spread to many other towns is the Community Rehabilitation Development Program in Peshawar, Pakistan.
ACTIVITIES IN THE COMMUNITY TO WIN INTEREST AND UNDERSTANDING
Group activities in a village or neighborhood can help improve understanding of and interaction with the disabled children. Four types of activities that have proved especially useful are discussed in the next 4 chapters:
- A ‘Playground for all children’
- CHILD-to-child activities
- Popular theater
- A children’s workshop for making toys
Any of these activities may be used to gain people’s interest and involvement when starting a community rehabilitation program. Or they can be used to increase understanding even where no special program is planned. For example, the workers in a village with a rehabilitation center can visit neighboring villages and put on skits or puppet shows about disability prevention. They might also talk with school teachers, local health workers or concerned parents about developing CHILD-to-child activities, or organize local children to build a ‘playground for all children’. Project PROJIMO took a truckload of school children to a neighboring village to help the children there build their own playground. Nearly 100 children and adults built the playground in one day.
After these 4 chapters, we will explore other aspects of social integration and opportunities for the disabled.