A mother’s grit

Samit and Mitali

Samit lives in Serampore, West Bengal. We look at how he benefitted from our inclusive education project and why we should never underestimate the power of a mother's support.

Samit and his mother Mitali

Samit lives with his parents in Baidyabati village in Serampore, West Bengal. His mother takes care of the family home, and his father is a mechanic. 
When Samit was younger, his parents suspected that he might have some development difficulties. And by the time he was five, they could see that he had a locomotor and speech disability.
Due to a lack of access to information about disability, Samit’s father had lost hope of his son living a normal life. But his mother Mitali, his primary carer, was determined to take action. Around this time, a team from Cheshire Homes in Serampore approached the family.

Working with Leonard Cheshire

The team were working on Leonard Cheshire’s Inclusive Education Project in Serampore. They thought that Samit would benefit from the programme. The project at Serampore Cheshire Home works with hundreds of children with disabilities. It helps them access care and therapy relevant to their needs. As well as supporting them in mainstream education.  
After conversations with Mitali, the team urged her to bring Samit to the centre at least once a week. While her husband was still apprehensive, Mitali went ahead and followed the team’s advice.  
From 2016, she regularly brought Samit to the centre where he was given physiotherapy. Reflecting on his journey, staff recalled that at first, Samit was not able to sit or stand without support. He would often stare at things he wanted but could not reach out for them or hold anything in his hands. This caused him frustration. After continuous physiotherapy, there was a remarkable improvement. Within months, he walked with some support and began using his hands.  
Although Mitali had not had support before, her determination to care for her child and continue his development was steadfast. Cheshire Homes staff recognised her commitment and began to train her in physiotherapy. They supported her to continue doing the exercises at home with Samit for the rest of the week. 

How we supported Samit

The inclusive education team also evaluated Samit and felt he was ready to be enrolled in school. So he began attending pre-primary classes at Shubhatala Government Primary School. During this time, Mitali also took him to the Special Educator of the Government’s Sarva Siksha Abhiyan elementary education programme. 
In 2017, he was able to acquire a disability certificate. His mother also arranged for surgery to help improve his speech at a hospital in Kolkota. Since then, there has been no looking back. Samit has only excelled and continued to prove himself. In 2018, he even received a scholarship from his school.  
Talking about his progress, the headteacher, Mrs Chandrani Basu, said: “Samit is not different from others. His development is an example to other children.”  
The teachers are happy with Samit’s improvement. And his communication is continuing to develop. He’s also participated in various programs, including skits, fashion shows and sports organised by the Cheshire Home.

Importance of a mother's support

If it wasn’t for the support and perseverance of his mother, Mitali, Samit could not have come this far. And the inclusive education project team recognised this too. They encouraged Mitali to take leadership of the parents’ support group, another element of the inclusive education project. She has taken this in her stride and actively participates in all training and awareness events. She also motivates other parents who are going through difficult times and may feel unable to cope with the demands of caring for a child with a disability.  
Samit’s father also began to acknowledge his improvement and participated in his son’s care. Today Mitali is a leader in her community, helping to enrol several children with disabilities in mainstream schools.  
“My son made me a proud mother. My special child made me special”, she said.