Kotramma from Muddaballi Village, Karnataka is 35-years old and cares for her 16-year old daughter, Yashodha who has learning disabilities. Living in the same household are Kotramma’s husband, Neelappa, and their 8-year old daughter, Kasturi.

Yashodha attends school but is unable to read, write or talk and makes little progress with standard schooling methods. Her mother has to encourage her to wash and dress, as she would not do these tasks without being prompted.

Speaking of the challenges of caring, Kotramma said that it used to upset her when people would talk about her family behind their backs. The community have been very negative towards the family because of Yashodha’s condition. Kotramma said she also finds her caring role tiring as Yashodha has to be watched at all times whenever she is not at school.

Our project partner SAMUHA first began working with the family in 2017. Kotramma joined her local carers group as soon as she was made aware of it and learned many things about disability and caring in general, and about Government schemes that are available for her family. She has since been to visit Government Officials to demand the benefits that her family is entitled to. The group has also provided Kotramma with emotional support and has given her a place where she can discuss her concerns about caring.

As part of the project, Kotramma was taught how to make packaging for medicine from magazine/newspaper cuttings. Papers are donated to SAMUHA who distribute them to carers so that they can make the packaging. Kotramma, Yashodha and Neelappa are all involved in making the packets. This supplements the family’s main income, which comes from Neelappa who is a barber.

Kotramma also attended a 5-day bag-making training course through the Carers Project and was one of six carers who decorated a total of 2,000 laptop cases which were sold for profit. In addition to this, Kotramma recently began to look at other ways she could increase her income and found YouTube videos on how to add beads and silk to sarees, which she commenced doing last month.

Since joining the carers group, Kotramma has said she now has courage to face the challenges that caring and the community throws at her. “My caring role is still there, and will be there for the rest of my life, but I feel more confident to cope now.” Whilst she used to be disappointed with the reactions of her local community, she now feels she can deal better with these as well.

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