Month: July 2020

shuktara - Guria at Lula Bari

Laughing through lockdown

In West Bengal to try to slow the spread of the virus we now have two days of complete lockdown each week. For many of our young people with physical disabilities lockdown is not very different as most days are spent at home in Lula Bari (our girls home) or Anna Bari (our home for boys). 

For example Guria has physiotherapy every week at home and she seems quite delighted with her routine. Who knew physio could be so much fun? In fact the other girls in the house can’t help but watch as Guria laughs through her whole session with Sandip our physiotherapist. 

Some things have changed, like the way our young people study. Before the pandemic the girls who attend REACH school would get ready, climb in the shuktara vehicle and go to school. These days everyone in the world is doing school remotely. Now Guria is helped to get ready for school wearing her uniform, Pappu turns on the laptop and connects her with her teacher online.

Sometimes what seems like an obstacle for some people has the potential to be a new and exciting experience for others – as you can see from the photos Guria enjoys her online classes immensely!

shuktara Founder's Day

21 years of shuktara!

It was in October 1998 that Alison Saracena (our webmistress), Bryan Forst (developer and technical expert) and David Earp (founder of shuktara) left their respective homes in San Francisco and London to head to Kolkata and start something that they had discussed for a long time, working with young people with disabilities.

Nothing quite worked out as they had planned and they started teaching typing and computer skills to youngsters in Alison and Bryan’s flat – this later became Uddami, a computer training centre. At that time they all lived on Southern Avenue in Kolkata.

On the 1st July 1999, David received a call to say there were two young men (Anna and Sunil) who were being moved from child care to adult care in a facility outside Kolkata and people had heard that they wanted to work with young people just like this.

That was the beginning of shuktara and on Wednesday we celebrated 21 years.

shuktara

 

Our celebration had an element of sadness because Anna passed away in October 2018 and we had our 20th anniversary last year, our first without him.

Everyone misses Anna but we cherish our many wonderful memories of him.

We had a low key ceremony for Anna at the boys house, now known as Anna Bari, with a white floral garland draped around his photo and the boys gathered around.

 

shuktara - Raju

 

This year due to lockdown only the staff and shuktara young people celebrated our Founders Day, the boys at Anna Bari and the girls at Lula Bari. As usual everyone enjoyed delicious mutton curry and payesh (Bengali rice-based pudding).

We also celebrated Raju’s birthday on 1st July, the day he chose – as with almost all of our young people, we don’t know his actual day of birth. In the evening David took a Happy Birthday Raju cake to the girls to spend some time at their home on this very special occasion.