We are a non-profit organization, that works to enable individuals with disabilities reach their full potential and ultimately reintegrate into wider society, through providing a loving home, rehabilitation, education, training, and employment, and promoting the intrinsic value of all humans regardless of disability.

With a history of 40 years working with people with disabilities, an organization like ours must constantly strive to keep up to date with all contemporary thinking regarding their care and rehabilitation. Over the past year, we have taken many steps to ensure our services remain relevant in a constantly changing landscape.

When we began our work, the best thing for people with disabilities was seen to be keeping them apart from their peers and community so that they could be cared for in a supportive environment and protected from others. Basic services such as education were also seen as irrelevant to them – especially those with learning difficulties.

Throughout our history we have evolved though, and with regard to education, opened Cotagala Special School to cater to the needs of the more able children. At that time, special education was the most modern thinking and so Prithipura remained at the forefront of developing services for people with disabilities.

More recently though, there has been a huge change within the field of disability. The premise that people with disabilities need to be separated from others in order to provide them with services relevant to them has been challenged and is now considered outdated.

Currently, Community Based Rehabilitation is thought to be the best way to enable people with disabilities to live the most fulfilled lives possible. This entails people with disabilities being rehabilitated in their own communities rather than being institutionalized.

Community workers are responsible for identifying and referring people with disabilities and the community as a whole takes on the responsibility of catering for their disabled members on the basis that it is a basic human right to be integrated with others and live in their own homes.

Within the broad term Community Based Rehabilitation, there are many strands, all of which contribute to a more holistic view of rehabilitation. In this view, making friends and playing sports are seen as just as important as taking medication.

In addition, to understand Community Based Rehabilitation one must understand that for the first time it is NOT about the disabled person changing to fit into society, but about the community learning and changing in order to adapt to the needs of its disabled members.

Three important concepts linked to Community Based Rehabilitation are Participation, Independent Living and Inclusive Education.

Participation is something that has been missing from planning services for people with disabilities for many years. It is assumed that they cannot make decisions about their own lives and so ‘experts’ are brought in to make those decisions on their behalf, but usually without even asking them their opinions.

However, now it is thought to be vital that people with disabilities are active participants in any process relevant to them, and have the opportunity to give their ideas and make decisions for themselves. Their opinions must be valued as other peoples would be, so that they learn that they have useful information and ideas that are worth talking about.

In the past, thy have come to believe their ideas and opinions are not worthy of listening to or acting upon and this must be changed through listening to them and acting on their ideas.

Inclusive education means that children with disabilities are taught in the same schools as other children. It is again important to stress here that the emphasis is NOT on integrating learners with special needs into the mainstream, but transforming the system to cater to a wider range of learners. It is seen to be the responsibility of the education system to educate all children regardless of their abilities, and the diversity they bring is seen as a challenge and enrichment rather than a problem.

Independent Living is where people with disabilities are trained and supported to live in independent accommodation and manage their lives as much as possible. A care worker will usually visit them to ensure they have no problems and to help out with issues and difficulties they face.

If the people have very mild disabilities these visits may be periodical, but if they need more support they may be daily or even continuous whereby a care worker stays with them at all times.