Family Retreat – Hyderabad

Arise and Shine (Isaiah 60:01)

Concept: To provide respite for primary caregivers of those with disabilities

Date: 14th – 16th October 2018
Location:  CHAI Training Centre, Medchal
Facilitators: Engage Disability Hyderabad Hub
Collaborators/Sponsors: Joni and Friends and The Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI)

Family Retreat Report

Hyderabad Hub of Engage Disability network organized a 3-day Family Retreat for families affected by disabilities from 14th to 16th October, 2018 at CHAI Training Center, Medchal with the support of Joni & Friends, The Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI) and Engage Disability (ED).  The retreat was aimed at families touched by disability to provide an opportunity for fun and leisure in the comfort of a safe and accessible environment. This was planned because most families with persons with disability have difficulties taking a break as the whole family. This is often because of financial difficulties and finding accessible places for fun and opportunities for the main caregiver to actually take a break as even if families do get away, the caregiver’s responsibilities remain.

The objectives of the retreat were:

  • To provide a week of rest and spiritual encouragement for families and individuals who live with the daily challenges of disabilities
  • To provide an opportunity for the Church and volunteers to step up and come alongside families affected by disability to bring them a few days of camp fun and spiritual rest

There were 40 people including 8 families with their kids and the volunteers from in and around Secunderabad. The families were given a warm welcome with the name of their dear one on the chat paper, breaking of the balloons and with a loud round applause.  The volunteers would cheer and greet the families who arrived for family retreat. Each volunteer was assigned to one family. The volunteers spent the entire day interacting and taking care of persons with the disability and left them only after escorting them back to their rooms after dinner.


Families affected by disability were approached by the members of the Hyderabad hub. Volunteers were identified by the hub members and were trained three weeks in advance to orient them on disability and how to relate to those with disabilities. We had 6 Churches, 9 volunteers from the Hyderabad, 5 Volunteers from Chittoor, 2 Volunteers from Kurnool and 3 staff of CHAI who were present full time.

Schedule: Day -1 (Sunday)

  • Welcome: Fr. Dileep, Associate Director of CHAI welcomed everyone with a great smile and loving words.
  • Theme for the day (Recognise the light): The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. -Isaiah 9:2
  • Sharing of the Word (John 5:1-15): Dr. Mathew Abraham C. Ss. R, M.D, Director-General CHAI encouraged the families with different examples from bible and real life in his ceremony.
  • In the afternoon, we showed the encouraging and inspiring video of Nick Vijucic.
  • The families were divided into small groups of men, women and children. For Men, Prof. Annavaram and for women, Mrs. Indira led the session of Application to life where the men and women shared in their respective groups about their ups and downs. The resource persons have listened and answered to them with their own experience and that moment turned a family of oneness. The women also received beauty treatment which was one of their loved activities. For children, Ms. Jubin and Ms. Bindu organized a lot playful things, craft activities and making of creative gift cards.
  • In the evening all of them in different groups had a lot of fun playing different games in Pratyasha campus.
  • After the dinner and the sharing of each other’s life story, the volunteers reached the families to their rooms and retired to bed.

Schedule: Day -2 (Monday)

  • Theme for the day (Receive the light): Then spoke Jesus again / unto them, saying, “I am the Light of the world. He that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” – John 8:12
  • Praise and worship: Zen and Priya team
  • Sharing of the Word (John 9:1-41): Annavaram having visual impairment since birth but a living example of great success and a model for others, motivated through his life story and the turning point bible words from John 9:3. The entire hall met with Spiritual and Disability that the persons are born with disabilities for the Glory of God. Altogether praised and thanked God with the rhythm of music and dance.
  • Pottery Activity: The persons with disabilities, family members and volunteers had a real touch of the clay during pottery making which is a never forgettable experience and most of them said, “I could never think of trying this but when I tried I succeed to my satisfaction and the same with my life that I should not give up thinking that I cannot but I should do it”.
  • Sharing of testimony: by individuals of the families
  • Talent Show: The first day we approached the families to get their names for the talent show, they were very much hesitating and only two of them gave their names on the first day. But on the day morning, most of them came by themselves and were ready for talent show. Towards the late evening during the talent show, all the families came out with colorful and outstanding performances. The joyful and happy moments continued from the hall to the dining hall.
  • After the dinner and the sharing of each other’s life story, the volunteers reached the families to their rooms and retired to bed.

Schedule: Day -3 (Tuesday)

  • Theme for the day (Reflect the light): Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven. – Mathew 5:16
  • Praise and worship: Zen and Priya team
  • Sharing of the Word (Mt: 5:14-16 & 2 Corinthians 4): The last day Rev. John Peter enlightened the families with various bible verses and real life stories. He said, “it is we, the human beings who differentiate ourselves from others for our self-satisfaction and make this sinless and holy creation of God, a sinful one.
  • Experience sharing & Immediate Impact: Each family came front and shared their experience. The parents were moved with the way the volunteers took care of their children with a lot of love, care, and feeding during the meals and tea breaks. One of them said that this family retreat resembled as ‘MINI HEAVEN’. It was a time of joy mixed with painful feeling of leaving the place. It was great to notice that the people who sometimes remained silent and quite, came front and expressed their feeling of acceptance, love, care, unity, fun and spiritual nourishment. The volunteers were also equally touched by the retreat since most of them were relating to people with disabilities. They all realized that there isn’t anything different between themselves and their friends with disabilities. Some volunteers stated that it gave them a sense of encouragement and joy to see people with disabilities play pranks and share jokes and doing a lot of the same things that they do themselves.
  • Gifts for families: Each participating family was given a gift with one family photo with volunteer and basic things for children for their return to home
  • Gifts for volunteers: The volunteers were given one family photo whom they accompanied for last two and half days and a certificate of participation.
  • Lighting of candles for PEACE and HARMONY: Everyone stood up lighting their candle for PEACE and HARMONY in the World wide.
  • Vote of thanks: At the end Mr. Chiranjeevi on behalf of ED extend heartfelt gratitude to the supporters, participating families, Speakers, volunteers, staff of CHAI, staff of CTC and all those who contributed towards the success of Family Retreat ‘Arise and Shine’.
  • Lunch and goodbyes: As usual saying ‘BYE’ always carries the painful feelings of separation and it was seen in the eyes of everyone at the time leaving the place after the lunch.

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