a caregiver-based approach
to supporting the wellbeing of children with disabilities

Priyam Global's operational model equips and supports families of children with disabilities to end the poverty cycle, to improve their living conditions, and to be well.



MAHLA (Mothers Access Health, Livelihoods, and Advocacy) is a twelve month program. After mothers of children with disabilities in poverty are identified, they form a cohort that will support each other and learn together for the next year. 

phase 1

Mothers are assessed for depression severity and social support levels. The entire household is assessed for family health (health practices and availability of clean water, toilets, regular and balanced diets, etc.) and known risk factors such as alcohol abuse or domestic violence. Immediate needs are addressed. Mothers complete 4 months of tailoring and jewelry-making classes. Mothers and fathers complete 3 more months of health education and individual counseling. They begin to focus on creating solutions to the issues identified in the assessments at the start of the program.

phase 2

Priyam's national staff work with each mother to set up a small business of her choice. Many mothers choose tailoring, as the demand in southern India for skilled tailors is constant. After graduating from the education program, mothers receive a start-up fund from the MAHLA project budget. Families prepare to graduate from the MAHLA project: setting goals, practicing money management, and planning for the future.

During both phases, mothers receive a monthly cash stipend and counseling to help them address immediate medical, nutrition, and household needs.


After completing the MAHLA program, families are financially independent and no longer receive a stipend. Their own businesses should be in place and they should have reached many of their personal goals set during the previous year. Priyam Global continues to facilitate monthly group sessions and social support for 12 months after graduation. 

The focus turns towards a new cohort, and the project begins again.


main issues that we target

  • Extreme poverty perpetuated by the added economic and social burdens of raising a child with developmental disability
  • Poor physical health of children with developmental disabilities
  • Poor physical health of families of children with developmental disabilities
  • Poor psychosocial health of parents who have a special needs child
  • Lack of education for parents of children with disabilities
  • Parent lack of knowledge of child needs, existing social services, and their own rights

mental health

In India, caring for a child with special needs is the mother's responsibility. Mothers of children with disabilities in poverty have high depression rates and many consider or attempt suicide.


family health

Poverty and disability create a downward spiral. The stresses and stigma parents experience affect their health, the needs of their child inhibit their ability to work, and isolation worsens it all.



Many parents in poverty did not finish primary school. They do not know how to learn about their child's needs, advocate for themselves, or know where to find information.


“When poverty, physical neglect and social marginalization intersect, the impact on the disabled can be devastating. Differently abled children are kept hidden away at their home, denied basic rights of mobility, education and employment. Social attitudes and stigma play an important role in limiting the opportunities of disabled people for full participation in social and economic life, often even within their own families.”  — Janardhana et al., 2010