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2) We plan on instigating a movement by expanding and reaching out to more people, so as to collect more data to create substantial material for research. We currently have a separate Advocacy and Awareness component in place, where we participate in seminars and discussions with relevant entities. Our volunteers are also encouraged to talks about the prevailing stigma and represent us in various avenues. All involved in the project are writing posts on blogs, social media, leading newspapers and even participating in radio shows to advocate for policy change. We believe such engagement and generation of dialogue will create pressure on the government to address the issue.

We plan on making the support a payable service for those who can afford it. We also would charge a fee for institutions and professionals taking our training. We are working towards utilizing this revenue to hire and employ our volunteers as permanent supporters who will continue to provide the service. Institutions can also adopt our service and hire workers trained by us to provide the service with the incentive of earning revenue.

3) To promote and institutionalize the social definition of disability and inclusion the Identity Inclusion project in partnership with the Edward M Kennedy (EMK) Center took on a 4 month long initiative with a grant of Tk 350,000.

The project selected 8 students and trained them on providing psycho-social support in partnership with the Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology (DECP), Dhaka University where the participants received an overview on the condition of the persons with disability in Bangladesh and gained the skill-set and knowledge to provide them with psycho-social support. These new trainers then in turn conducted trainings in four other top universities across four major cities across the country for 80 students. The project targeted primarily students of psychology, public health and social works background. These exercises solidified the knowledge of the trainers on one hand and also helped disseminate the message to create awareness of the stigma against disability.

After the end of the program, the trainers were certified and started working as psycho-social supporters, to provide support to the organizations diverse clients from a child being excluded from school for a certain kind of disability or someone not getting a job just because they were considered less able to simply providing the right information/ referrals in order to direct towards the appropriate services or service providers. Currently they are supporting 4 such clients.

We learnt from our pilot that only those volunteers who were from Dhaka were able to put their psychosocial skills to use, as we were able to give them the necessary structural support to provide support to people as this does not exist anywhere. With available funds we will be able to provide that set up in places outside Dhaka where there is greater need for it.

As we also were able to generate enough interest in the youth to take up the training in cities outside of the capital Dhaka, we are excited to explore the prospects of setting up the support service and recruiting the trained volunteers, which will be a unique experience and opportunity for all. We have seen the small yet effective impact of our service in Dhaka, and are hopeful that we will be able to recreate it in Sylhet and Chittagong.

OpenIDEO  Team, thank you for your in-depth analysis and relevant insights about our project!

1) Community members will be informed about our service through word of mouth, institutions and social media. We will campaign and promote our services through health institutions such as the National Institute for Mental Health and Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP), with whom we already have an agreement. Occupational Therapists at these institutions will recommend our service to potential users. Campus promotions and campaigns will be held across top universities, where a large community of youth seeking support services will be familiarized with the service. Our volunteer themselves will approach the community members personally and create the awareness.

Volunteers providing the service are reimbursed with the costs they incur due to service provision, such as transport costs and phone call expenses. Trainers will be paid for the number of days they’ve given training. Once the service has been established and there is a steady income, we would offer full-time, paid positions as psycho-social supporters. Alongside monetary incentives, we will hold regular meetings, discussions, and in-house trainings. The program managers will acts as their mentors from who they can gain insights and experiences. The skill-set and knowledge-base gained for their training and experience, alongside the certification will enhance their portfolio for future endeavors.

We will be directly working with Occupational Therapists who will serve as advisers for our client’s individual assessments and support plans. Based on the needs of the clients, we will approach and work with other stakeholders to vouch for inclusion of our clients in their institutions. We will provide necessary expertise and training to fulfil this. We also plan on providing this program’s training to institutions such as disabled people’s organizations, schools, workplaces, and to interested professionals who would want to advocate for inclusion in their respective fields.

Client confidentiality is of utmost importance to us. We sign MoU’s with all our clients stating the terms and conditions of the service, and have advocacy and consent forms which bind us to uphold the client’s privacy. Each volunteer is required to sign a contract which stipulates client confidentiality as an important clause. Volunteers also have periodic evaluations of their performance and conduct to ensure the quality of the service is maintained.

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