‘Agriculture therapy,’ a novel project initiated to boost the morale of mentally-challenged women, is reaping high yields.
Prathyasha Bhavan, a home for mentally-challenged women functioning in Ramavarmapuram, near here, under the Social Justice Department, has been successfully trying this novel way to make a remarkable change in the mental and physical well-being of 25-odd inmates.
“The inmates, mainly mentally-challenged destitute women from various parts of the country, show poor communication skills. Left by their dear ones on the streets, they hardly speak or respond to communications. Most of them suffer from poor health and various diseases,” said K.I. Rabiya, superintendent of the home.
“We started the project more than two years ago on an experimental basis to make a change in the lives of the inmates,” she said.
“The result was amazing. It changed the entire ambience of the Prathyasha Bhavan. Waking up in the morning to flowering plants in our garden and vegetables in the compound created miracles in the mental state of the inmates. Their days started becoming busy. They came forward to work in the garden in the morning and afternoon. For many of them, it was a rebirth,” Ms. Rabiya said.
“There was remarkable change in the way they were thinking, communicating, and responding with each other. A team spirit developed between them slowly. There was improvement in their sense of hygiene and efficiency. They became more punctual, stopped using abusive languages, which became the part of their lives due to life on the streets. The farming therapy also proved a good remedy for sleep disorders,” she said.
Appreciating their attempt, the Social Justice Department approved the project. Under the project, which they named ‘Swasraya Vila,’ the inmates were categorised based on their physical and mental backwardness. Depending on their efficiency to contribute to the project, they were engaged in various activities from nurturing flowering plants to cultivating vegetables and plantains.
Strenuous jobs such as ploughing the land and digging pits for plantain and other vegetables were done by outside labourers. Only maintenance and nurturing the garden were done by the inmates.
The department supported with funds.
At present, more than 38 types of vegetables are being cultivated in the garden of the home.
The vegetables are mainly used at the home itself, the superintendent said.