The Abhi Counselling and Therapy Centre was established in 2007, in New Shimla, in order to bring the children with special needs out of their homes and provide them with an environment, which would cater to and foster their development and growth.
The home-based programme which Abhi was providing the children through 2005-2006, had succeeded in extending family support and basic education in self-care skills, medical intervention, functional education and physiotherapy for the children under its care.
However, this was just not enough and the need for a school-like environment was felt to be badly missing, an environment where the children could spend the day interacting with other children and adults, learning social skills, behaviour management and having their individual needs for speech therapy and physiotherapy provided on a daily basis.
Out of this need developed the idea and structure of the Abhi Centre. The Centre employs two special teachers, two helpers (both mothers of special children), a physiotherapist, a speech therapist, a teacher for vocational training and a driver for its ambulance which is used for transporting the children. The children follow a regular routine of prayer time, group activities which include games, puzzles, drawing/painting, eating, dance and recitation. Physiotherapy and functional academics are individual activities in which each child works with the therapist or special teacher according to individual need and ability. A mid-day meal is provided by the centre. This activity is also used as a vocational training opportunity in cooking, serving, table-setting and clearing up. Recently, the Centre has started the sale of some of the products made by its children, such as candles, paper bags and cards to impart more positivity to the vocational training. Regular medical camps are organised for assessment and treatment of all problems associated with disabilities: this is particularly useful as most of these children have almost no access to health care.
An important component of the Centre’s programme is the effort to involve the parents of these children with their activities, for they are the primary care-givers. Towards this end the parents are encouraged to accompany their wards to the Centre, participate fully in their regimen as well as related collective activities of the Centre. They are regularly counselled and are even imparted basic training in the rehabilitation of these children. In fact, one of these parents is now employed as a special teacher in the Centre itself!
The Centre also makes efforts to function as a nodal point for other similar organisations working in the field of special education. Based on the premise that exchange of information and experiences adds to the organisational corpus of learning, the Centre makes available its visiting experts to other NGOs for assessment, trainings, development of IEPs, parent counselling etc. It also associates these organisations in camps, outings for children and other functions so as to develop a synergy in this sector.
ABHI is registered with the Deptt. Of Social Justice and Empowerment of the Govt. of Himachal Pradesh since its inception, and works closely with the state govt. It has been continuously funded by the Education Department through its Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan under which the Centre has been implementing the Home-based Education programme for special children till March 2013. The Centre has also received a grant from the HP Department of Social Justice towards the creation of its infrastructure. It has been donated an ambulance by a Hydel project, which is used to ferry children from their homes: unable to use public transport, and not having the means to afford private conveyance, these children would otherwise have been deprived of any rehabilitation treatments. The Centre is closely associated with, and receives the support of, local Chapters of other civil society organisations such as Art of Living Foundation, Inner Wheel, Rotary Club, SAI Foundation, and of social-minded individuals. Contributions to ABHI enjoy the benefit of exemption under Sec. 80 G of the Income Tax Act.