During a home visit by the HI team, Milan can be seen interacting with social mobilizer Renuka Dhakal on the side of their house. | © Raj Bhakta Dangol / HI
Milan, aged 12, has autism. He lives with his very modest family in the south of Nepal. Thanks to HI's "Inclusive Futures" project, he is finally receiving the support he needs.
Milan, at only 12 years old, has already faced many challenges, including overcoming his multiple disabilities, obtaining support from social services for himself and his extremely modest family and... access to education!
When HI's teams first met Milan and his mother, they realised that the family had no documents recognising his disability. Renuka Dhakal, HI's social mobiliser, recounts the administrative procedures that had to be undertaken:
"Milan's family was marginalised and had had no contact with the administrative services. We began by working closely with the local council to get Milan's mother a marriage certificate and a citizenship certificate. Then we were able to take the steps needed to obtain Milan’s recognition by the social services as a person with disabilities.”
Among other things, this recognition entitles Milan to a monthly allowance to support himself and his family. But Milan's dearest wish was to go to school. HI’s teams did everything they could to help him fulfil his dream, as his mother, Sanu Maya, explains:
"Milan wanted to study and asked me to enrol him in school. Unfortunately, his father was against the idea... However, a member of the Inclusive Futures project contacted me and offered to teach Milan in a mainstream school with inclusive practices or, if not, at home. That gave me new hope!"
Since then, twice a week, Bimal Thapa rides his moped out to Milan's home. For two hours, he provides him with personalised support to help him with his daily needs, such as learning how to wash and dress himself. Bimal also uses fun activities to teach Milan the basics of reading and arithmetic.
Milan communicates mainly through sounds and gestures that only his parents understand. With their help, Bimal is gradually connecting with Milan:
"Working with Milan is a very rewarding experience. My aim is to help him become more independent in his daily activities and to create a stimulating environment in which he can thrive!”
Day after day, Bimal sees Milan’s increasing determination to learn and is very proud of him.
"I remember the first time that Milan, after much effort, managed to button his shirt by himself! I saw the smile and joy on his face! That's what motivates me to continue to support him. I firmly believe that every child, whatever their situation, deserves the chance to learn and develop.”
The Inclusive Futures project, managed by HI Nepal and its local partner, Autism Care Chitwan Society, has played a key role in Milan's pathway. He has benefitted from early detection of his autism, a health assessment and referral to the appropriate services. This project, which currently supports 2,300 children with disabilities, is supported by the UK government's Foreign and Commonwealth Office.