Taking care of and rehabilitating people with mental disabilities is no easy task. Meet a woman who’s chosen to commit herself to this cause voluntarily, and is committed to helping spread the word about Psycho Social Rehabilitation (PSR) in India.
We’re quite aware of the existence of persons with disabilities around us. But very few of us have a desire to personally extend a helping hand towards these ones who have been less fortunate. People amidst us who go above and beyond to their bit to give something back to the society can be counted on fingers. Meet Usha Kamath from Nitte, a beautiful dancer and a breast cancer survivor. At 67, this wonder woman has the energy of a little girl, and the heart of a mother who has been through thick and thin in life.
Kamath works with patients suffering from mental ill-health, and contributes most of her time towards making their lives better. It is undoubtedly a difficult task to work with people having mental health issues. What is more difficult than treating them with medicines is living with them every day, trying to give them a sense of purpose, and making their lives seem more meaningful in their own eyes. Usha Kamath has been actively doing this – and more – for the past few years.
Service To Society
Kamath has always been interested in social work. She has always had an urge to do something good for people and society. “People do good deeds, no doubt, but sometimes it troubles me to see that they do it only to gain name, fame, or some other benefits,” Kamath confesses. “I’ve wanted to serve in a place where my service would truly make a difference, and all that I seek is a feeling of accomplishment for doing my bit for society.”
Kamath chose Psycho Social Rehabilitation (PSR) because she felt that her service could be of most use in that area. She had been a jack-of-many-trades – dance, art & craft, yoga, gardening, cooking, and myriad other hobbies. Now, she tries to involve her patients in those very things, and that’s why she believes her service counts.
The Challenges & Merits of Working With PSR
Kamath believes that the biggest challenge is the patient themselves. Each patient is different and each one needs to be handled differently. More often than not, they end up disobeying, breaking free, or even offending the people trying to help them. “That has happened a lot of times, and there are also times when they have pushed me to tears. But at the end of the day we need to understand that they aren’t doing it intentionally, and we are here to change that very attitude of theirs. This belief keeps me going, even though handling patients gets difficult at times,” says Kamath.
She is firm however that watching her patients get better every passing day more than makes up for any negative experiences. Kamath has had extreme cases that have become manageable after they joined rehabilitation. Watching them find meaning to their life motivates her, and gives her confidence in her work.
The Struggle With Breast Cancer
Kamath underwent a struggle with breast cancer about 18 years ago. “Cancer is not easy for anyone; it wasn’t easy for me either. But I am thankful for all the support and strength I received during the time,” Kamath remembers. Her husband was a specialist surgeon in the area, and a huge pillar of support throughout her struggle. Kamath believes she has always been a brave individual, and those positive factors helped her fight the disease with strength. In fact, she was back to pursuing her hobbies and interests on the 10th day of her treatment!
Kamath is also a natural dancer, having learned classical dance at a very young age. “Dedication towards whatever I do comes naturally to me. Hence, pursuing dance seriously became my passion, which I accomplished,” Kamath says happily. She has performed across the country, and even abroad. She has even taught classical dance to a number of students, and enjoys teaching the same to her patients in rehab, whenever they are in the mood to dance. At the age of 67, dancing is still the love of her life.
Eliminating Social Stigma
Kamath believes there is still a long way for PSR to grow in India. Firstly, the social stigma associated with mental patients must be removed so that the patients and their family members can easily gain access to what can make them better. Also, it is a difficult task to handle patients who can sometimes get moody and impulsive.
Despite all the potential hardships, Kamath is proud of the work her and her colleagues are doing. All she asks for is dedication on the part of PSR workers, and formation of strong teams that can work to eliminate social stigma and make patients’ lives better.
Usha Kamath is a voluntary worker, whose only earning from the generous help she gives is the sense of accomplishment she gets from her work. She urges other women to take part in the endeavour to promote rehabilitation, as she feels that this is one of the best ways to pay back to society. Mr. & Mrs. Kamath are a couple full of gratitude for all their life has been, and they do their best to be of help to anyone they can. We wish them all the happiness in the world!