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The Meaning of a Home

The challenges of restoring recovered persons to their homes have left us with a new definition of a home. It is just not a structure and blood ties which ensure the feeling of belonging. A home is where there is acceptance of who you are and support for what you can be. The very conditions which make a person with mental illness escape the net remain predominantly the same when the person is restored. Intolerance for the weak is as much a part of society as is the successful reinstating that we have seen of proxy families in the community for our vulnerable patients. Thus, persons who have found acceptance in the community often do not wish to go back or search for their families of origin.


The work of Iswar Sankalpa has been grounded in equity at various levels.

• Equity in the realm of meeting the treatment gap of a section of the most vulnerable population in the country who have lost everything, including their identity, to a treatable mental illness.

  • • Equity in the realm of the professional and the patient power equation. It is only the patients’ experienced compassion and care from the professional which builds the pathway to recovery. The professional has no other system to coerce the patient to accept treatment in the name of ‘doing good’.
  • • Equity in the realm of benevolence toward the vulnerable in society. This work has brought to the surface that meaningful acts of kindness which can make a change in the living environment have champions among the socioeconomically weaker sections of society as much as the rich and powerful. So a street vendor and a homeless beggar have also contributed to the care of vulnerable persons and shared the costs of support as much as donations from the industry houses.
  • • Equity in terms of gender. The work has laid bare the needs of women as well as men. The majority of organizations have focussed on the ‘uplift- ment’ of the ‘second sex’ and categorized them higher on the vulnerability index. However, our experience has shown that the men, who have become homeless and mentally ill often, though not as frequently as in case of women, experience vulnerability with respect to physical, sexual and emotional abuse on the street. They are sometimes subject to violence from other men, and can also be sexually molested. They can fall victim to serious physical health issues. They also become prone to economic exploitation. The value of men in society has still not broken the stereotype of a ‘resource generating’ machine. Thus even upon recovery, the family does not want to accept them until they ‘earn their keep’. Thus, it has taken a ‘habilitation oriented recovery pathway’ for the men under care of Iswar Sankalpa.
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