Category Archives: Disablity Programs

John Hunt Outreach Program


Beautiful Himalyas in the background on the way to the district of Uttarkashi from Dehradun.

On Thursday 15 and Friday 16 March 2018, I was incredibly fortunate to travel with two of the Special Educators from Raphael out into the remote Himalayan mountains as part of the John Hunt Outreach Program. A nearly 8 hour drive along very narrow & incredibly winding roads and we reached the district of Uttarkashi, to the north of DehraDun. Uttarkashi is divided into six smaller ‘blocks’. This was the final block in this district to be visited by the team. I couldn’t believe the distances covered to provide training, advice and support around disability.

Disability Presentation to the Anganwadi women.

On arrival, Mini, Ganga and I presented to 215 Anganwadi – woman who look after children aged 0-6 in the villages, about disability and how to identify disability in children. Some had walked up to 30kms to be there and were incredibly appreciative of the information and training they received. I spoke about how to identify learning disabilities in children with the assistance of an interpreter. Our training session was cut a little short as a thunderstorm threatened and many of the woman had a long walk in the rain to return to their villages.

Early the following morning we were taken by one of the Supervisors up into a very remote village where we joined in one of the Anganwadi sessions; what a truly incredible experience to share in traditional village life.

Kim working with the Anganwadi children from the villages.

Mid morning the Anganwadis from around the district returned with children they identified as having delayed development, and their parents. We assessed 31 children from 8 months old to 14 years through a range of simple activities such as blowing bubbles, sorting blocks by colour and shape and copying simple shapes and patterns.  The child’s parents and the Anganwadi were also asked many questions about the child and their development. The children presented with a range of disabilities including deafness, cerebral palsy and intellectual disability, to name a few.  It was very obvious to me that these children were very much loved and the parents were incredibly grateful that we were taking an interest in their child and offering advice and support. The Anganwadi and the parents were very keen to learn about different strategies to assist the child and were given handouts to support them. Many parents were also issued with a Disability Certificate for their child. This Certificate entitles the parents to receive 1,000 Rupees per month from the Government (approximately $20 AUD). This financial assistance will make a huge difference in the lives of these families.

I was incredibly impressed with the work of the outreach program and could see the difference it makes to the lives of so many rural children and their families.

It will be vitally important that there is follow up support for these children and ongoing training for the Anganwadi who work closely with the children and their families if the Program is going to make a difference long term.

Kim, Raphael Volunteer













Helping children at Raphael

By Ben,  Physiotherapist

Going to Raphael was an easy decision due to the endless praise it receives from anyone who is lucky enough to visit.

As a physiotherapist I had been working in a hospital setting for two years and Raphael was the perfect opportunity to help grow my skills,  as well to use what I had learned to help out those who do not have such an abundant supply of health resources.

I arrived in Raphael late at night after a long journey from Delhi. Expecting to just pick up some keys and fall into bed.  Instead found the cook had been waiting up for me, going from his house to check when I arrived, so he could make sure I got dinner. This was the first example of a selfless desire to help which became a common trait in everyone I met working at Raphael. This gives reason to why I believe Raphael is so successful in making such positive progress in each one of its kids.

My arrival was at a perfect time. One of the physiotherapists had recently left  and even though Megha, the head physiotherapist, was doing a fantastic job running the ship solo,  the amount of work that could be done was endless. My work at Raphael primarily involved doing daily physio sessions and making treatment plans for the physically disabled kids in the school. With most of the kids having a Cerebral Palsy presentation,  our work focused on increasing their independence with activities of daily living,  thus enabling them to participate more with their family, friends and within the community. Although my “physio Hindi” wasn’t as fluent as would be ideal, the amount you can do for these kids is amazing and to see the amount Megha and the teachers have already done for them is mind boggling.

In the short 3 months I was there the progress I was able to see was fantastic, and the kids, although challenging, were incredible fun to work with and you could ultimately see the added quality of life these kids were receiving from Raphael.

I was also lucky enough to be the physio to go on the community based rehab programme. This was one of the highlights of my time in India. Stretching out to the rural suburbs of Dehradun you get a whole new appreciation of Indian communities. We were welcomed in to numerous homes to assess and make early intervention plans for their young children. The appreciation from the families really helps you to understand how valuable this is to them who mostly, up till now, had received little information on how to cope with a disabled child.

As much as you are able to help out during your time there, Raphael also gives you a whole new set of skills and growth that you did not realise you needed until you got there. As a physio my job varied from looking after early intervention kids, school age kids, the elderly residents of Shiv Sadan with cured leprosy, and of course, learning to dance for Founders’ Day. As a volunteer in India I was able to make lifelong friendships, see amazing sights including weekend treks through the close by Himalayas, getaways to nearby towns of Rishikesh and Chandigarh and not so nearby places like Amritsar, Dharamsala, Jaipur and Chopta.

A great experience and I will probably look at returning in the future.



 In his first year as the National President of Ryder-Cheshire Australia, Rory McEwen, has recently returned from a visit to Raphael. Below is his report.

Rory McEwen with Dr Gupta

My visit to Raphael commenced with two one day trips, the first into the foothills of the Himalayas where our jeep driver managed to deliver four of us safely to a small school in a tiny village to meet with around 50 parents and their disabled children. The journey along narrow winding mountain roads was not for the faint hearted. Marvelling at the women struggling up steep inclines, almost buried in huge loads of vegetation balanced on their heads, took our minds off the perils of the journey.

The gathering that awaited us at the end of our four hour trek had assembled for a briefing on managing and modifying challenging behaviours and to discuss sexuality and the disabled. Our talented presenters spoke in Hindi.  Luckily the accompanying slides were in English so I could get some feel for the animated discussion. Some of the parents, particularly the men,  didn’t seem to take kindly to some of the frank discussions but it was an overwhelming success. Continue reading  NATIONAL PRESIDENT, RORY MCEWEN, VISITS RAPHAEL

BHOLA The gentle man who touched so many hearts



Bhola painting with volunteer at Raphael

It is with a heavy heart, we inform you about the sad demise of Bhola, one of our permanent residents who came to Raphael in 1959, the year of our establishment and left for his heavenly abode on 2nd January 2017.

Life has unexpected twists and turns and often what seems to be the very end may turn out to be the beginning of a beautiful story – a story of reaching out, of love and care, of helping hands extended in assistance to fellow travellers in life’s remarkable journey.  Such has been the story of Bhola’s life. It is one which touches the well spring of human compassion, tenderness in human interaction and it spans countries. Continue reading BHOLA The gentle man who touched so many hearts

Promoting the Possible Canonisation of Leonard Cheshire

The Roman Catholic Diocese of East Anglia in the United Kingdom where Leonard Cheshire lived, is launching a campaign in early September, 2017 to celebrate the centenary of his birth. It is hoped that the campaign will inspire an ongoing community of prayer and eventual canonisation in a process of discovery leading to possible sainthood.

Leonard visiting Raphael Ryder-Cheshire Home in Dehradun, India

Leonard Cheshire was the most decorated British servicemen in World War II. An RAF pilot, he conducted over 100 bombing missions. He was also the leader of the famous ‘Dambuster Squadron’ (No 617), noted for flying low over the water in sending the skipping bombs towards their target.

He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1940 (with two bars in 1943 and 1944), the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1941 and the Victoria Cross in 1944. In 1945 he was selected by Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, to represent the British Government as an observer at the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki in Japan. Continue reading Promoting the Possible Canonisation of Leonard Cheshire