Empowering the imapired through Computer and ICT :: Turning Point, West Bengal, INDIA

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Registration Name : eINDIA2011/AN/128
Project Category : eHealth::Best Civil Society/ Development Agency Initiative of the Year
Project Name : Empowering the impaired through Computer & ICT

Details of Applicant
Name : Ishita Sanyal
Address : 27 Jadavpur East Road, Ankur Apt, Flat-4&5
City : Kolkata
State : West Bengal
Country : INDIA
Zip Code : 700032

Details of Project/Implementing Agency
Name of Organisation : Turning Point
Address : 27 Jadavpur East Road, Ankur Apt, Flat-4&5,,
City : Kolkata
State : West Bengal
Country : INDIA
Zip Code : 700032

Brief description of the programme/project/Initiative :
The biggest challenge in today’s society is growing mental illness & marginalization of the affected individual. In this scenario a change is needed for the betterment of these people in the minimum available resources. Research shows that the most important need of a person suffering from major psychological problem is earning a livelihood. Our ten years effort failed to provide disability card or job reservation for people with mental illness. In India over 125 million people suffer from Mental Illness but professionals are far less in number. Through computer we not only spread awareness but also Computer training helps to make them (MI) economically independent which is very important for their prognosis & development. Unless these people can be meaningfully engaged there is a high risk of relapse even after treatment & medication. People who live in interiors, they & their family members can learn about the illness through our website, interact with us through emails & phones after initial learning from the net. People allover the world interact with us through emails & Skype. In a nutshell we provide :-

  1. Computer literacy to the Disabled people
  2. Employability through computer
  3. Awareness
  4. Learning coping skills through internet
  5. Scope to communicate & interact with other affected people
  6. Become members of self help group
  7. Utilizing computer for livelihood generation through handicrafts, jewellery production & selling through computer

Why was the project started : Why was the project submitted-
The project was started to provide a vocational training that would initiate interest amongst people suffering from mental illness. As many of these people are highly intelligent they used to get bored & frustrated by traditional vocational trainings that was available in that time. Computer was selected for initiating vocational training in accordance with their intellectual level. Computer training was also initiated to make them interact with sufferers all over the world, become members of self help groups & also to acquire knowledge & awareness that was lacking amongst the sufferer & their family members. Professionals being less in number do not get time & scope to explain to the sufferer & their family members details about illness, the symptoms, the coping strategies that are needed to be developed but computer & ICT has been able to solve this problem making the stakeholders aware of all the symptoms & coping strategies along with knowledge about health at hand

Objective :
Transforming a non productive member suffering from chronic mental illness in to a productive money earning member of the society

Target group : People suffering from mental illness
Geographical reach : Geographical reach-People at West Bengal for direct involvement in the project. But people throughout India, Bangladesh gets benefitted by the information through computer & interact to us through emails whenever needed.
Date from which the project became operational : 16 January 2000
Is the Project still operational : YES

10 points that make the programme/project innovative?

  1. Using Computer- the machine which is said to be making a man loner to be used as a tool to reach out to people , communicate & interact with them which makes Social inclusion of mentally ill possible in this society
  2. To spread awareness & knowledge about mental illness
  3. To make people suffering from mental illness computer literate & use it as a tool to earn their livelihood
  4. To bridge the gap that exist in the society between the number of professionals available & the huge number of sufferers who do not get the needed valuable information from the professionals that is needed for their prognosis & development
  5. To improve the quality of life of the sufferer
  6. To improve the communication skills of the sufferer
  7. Computer also increases their concentration level as well as motivation
  8. Prepares the ground to get a job
  9. Increases their self confidence

List the 5 achievements of the programme/project?

  1. Their quality of life has increased a lot
  2. They have started earning their own livelihood.
  3. Computer provided them a meaningful occupation in accordance with their IQ level
  4. It helped them to come back to the main stream of life & interact with millions of others through Internet.
  5. It helped them to recover from illness

List the 5 key challenges faced while implementing the programme/project/initiative

  1. Difficulty in getting an Infrastructure-till now we need to change our premises after every 3 years according to the agreement & every time we face problem
  2. The community was against this programme as they used to think that people with mental illness would create nuisance. We started some programmes involving community like sports, exhibition, cultural programme through which they came to know about their immense potentialities & changed their attitude
  3. Lack of funds. We do not collect funds now- run it like an entrepreneurship project
  4. Lack of awareness about mental illness- we have started doing workshops & awareness programmes, walks
  5. Policy makers are also often not clear about the need of mentally ill people. They often think that the need of mentally ill people is similar to that of mentally retarded. We have tried to involve policy makers in our programme to change their attitude

List the 5 points how can the programme serve as a model that can be replicated or adapted by others?

  1. This programme has already been adapted by World Fellowship of Schizophrenia & Allied Disorder as ideal rehabilitation programme & taught in developing countries.It needs very little economic resource & can be replicated all over India as there is lack of professionals compared to the magnitude of the problem throughout India & through Computer & internet we can centrally control all the budding centers throughout India
  2. Computers can be collected from corporate when they change their machines. So in low cost or no cost we can collect a number of machines
  3. As majority of the sufferer stay in remote areas this model would be helpful to them
  4. This model is helpful as through it we can continue rehabilitation without the physical presence of psychiatrist & can only take his help when needed through skype
  5. It is cheap & can be run by the people in the community & recovered individual

List 5 points to elaborate on the scalability of the programme/project/initiative

  1. The project is sustainable. But the only difficulty as of now is lack of fund to buy computer or provide a start up money for the new entrepreneurs. We are actually turning the people suffering from mental illness & their family members small entrepreneurs who would run a rehabilitation center along with cyber café in remote areas. Each one of these centers once they start earning would pay us back a fixed amount as royalty charge. This would enable us to provide further training to new entrepreneurs.
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