News from the field
Oct 2020 – Dec 2020: Update about ED Hubs
ED hubs are the visible manifestation of the work of the ED Network at the local/regional levels. Follow-up with participants of earlier National Conferences has ledg to initiation of new hubs. Collaboration with those who were associated through ED conferences in the past has proved to be fruitful.
In the North East India region, specifically in Nagaland and Manipur such collaboration has resulted in the creation of a new Engage Disability hub in in Churachandpur (Manipur) – known as the Lamka hub, and the revival of the Dimapur hub (Nagaland).
- After two small hub planning meetings, two organisations associated in the Dimapur ED hub – CIHSR and Prodigals Home came together on 3 Dec 2020, to observe International Day of Persons with disabilities as a way to revive the ED hub and come together to plan further.
- The Lamka hub had their first hub meeting on 12 December 2020. The group that met included persons with locomotor disabilities, visual impairment, intellectual disability, and cerebral palsy; peers and significant others of persons with disabilities.
Participants of the first meeting of the Lamka Hub, Churachandpur, Manipur
Follow-up with ED associates in Odisha has also resulted in the formation of a new Bolangir hub that covers Bolangir, Kalahandi and Naupad districts.
- The Bolangir hub held their first meeting on 9 December 2020. It was a meeting of pastors from three districts coming together to be introduced to disability inclusion and plan ways to take it forward in their respective churches.
Follow up with associates who had attended 2017 National Conference from Madurai in the state of Tamil Nadu, has resulted in the formation of the hub there.
- Madurai hub has had their first meeting on 24 November 2020. The group that met included persons with locomotor disabilities and hearing impairment, pastors, students of theology, and others working in the area of disability.
One of the existing ED hubs in Chittoor through their ongoing work among persons with disabilities in that region have identified and formed a Mothers’ Group (mothers of children with multiple disabilities) and a young people group (unemployed youth working as daily wagers with less educational backgrounds) to discuss various issues which they face and to collectively work together to address them.
Mothers’ Group meeting in progress at Chittoor hub
These groups create awareness, develop local leadership, and provide an intersectional space for PWDs and youth who can empower and equip each other. As an interfaith group equipped by the Church/Chittoor Hub, they also sensitize other religious leaders in the community about disability inclusion. Here the hub and the local Church plays an important role in creating accessible spaces in other religious places of worship as well.
Aug to Oct 2020: News from ED Hubs
The ED hubs are the heart of the ED Network and it is activities that happen at the hub level that multiplies the impact of the ED Network. The prevailing pandemic conditions meant hubs could not meet regularly.
The Bangalore, Chennai, and Delhi hubs have had difficulties meeting together although individuals belonging to the hubs have been actively involved in Covid-19 relief and rehabilitation work relating to persons with disabilities. In this sense, the impact of the work of ED hubs and partners in the ED network has therefore continued in the accompaniment of persons with disabilities.
Some hubs turned restrictions of the pandemic into an opportunity to meet regularly virtually and to sustain fellowship through other electronic means.
The Dehradun hub
Two virtual meetings on zoom were held and the hub sustained fellowship between hub members through regular visits and calls. The regular activities of the Dehradun hub include visits to pastors to mobilise them in various ways; providing rehabilitation service to a woman with spinal cord injury through the local church; and working alongside churches that provided COVID relief to families with disabilities.
The short online course on “Beyond Suffering” for pastors in partnership with Joni and Friends and networking with the local disabled peoples’ organisation (DPO) are also ongoing work of the Dehradun hub. The plans of the Dehradun hub in the coming months include conducting Luke 14 dinners with the local pastors and families and to continually visit families and people with disabilities and mobilize resources according to their needs.
The impact of ED initiatives in this hub and its vicinity is that pastors have become more sensitive to the needs of the disabled community and have been able to share and avail resources from each other. The pastors continue to conduct the “Beyond suffering” courses in their respective congregations.
The Hyderabad hub
The Hyderabad hub continues to have monthly online hub meetings through zoom. Their fellowship during the pandemic has also been kept intact through conference calls and scheduled phone calls to ensure hub members, especially those with disabilities, were kept in focus. Rev Asir Ebenezer, the new Chair of ED joined the August meeting of the ED hub.
The activities of the Hyderabad hub during this period include mobilising funds for medical expenses of persons with disabilities belonging to the hub and distribution of groceries kits to PWDs belonging to both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh states.
Some of the ongoing networking of the Hyderabad hub include networking with the local seminary Andhra Christian Theological College, local pastors’
fellowships, and with local Telugu television channels to create disability
The Hyderabad hub is closely connected with one of the ED associates – the Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI) – on an ongoing basis. The Telugu translation of the Engage Disability Toolkit is also part of the ongoing work of the Hyderabad hub which is at the proofreading stage at this point.
A training program ‘Equip’ – A Biblical perspective on disability, by which
members are benefited and blessed, is another ongoing involvement of the
Hyderabad hub. Continuing to connect online and over calls during the pandemic, completion of the translation of ED toolkit, and planning for the Family Retreat in Hyderabad are some of the plans of the Hyderabad hub for the coming months.