Helping people, especially young people, find their place in this world is affirming work. For many people, including people with disabilities, finding out what is “a fit” requires having lots of experiences, stretching a bit, and experimentation to see what brings out the best in us.
Mohammed has always stood out to his family and friends as a unique teenager who has big ideas about his future. When the pandemic struck, the centre which he attends each day in Bangalore switched from hands-on, face-to-face support to online classes and online activities. He was not interested in this, and those who know him well could see this. However, the onset of the pandemic opened up new possibilities for him. He shifted with his family to their farmhouse in Hyderabad, where he may well have discovered his niche.
As the lockdown started due to COVID, his family moved to a small farm near Hyderabad to avoid being cooped up in the apartment in Bangalore. And Mohammed almost immediately found his place at the farm in a surprising fit. He adapted well to the farm schedule, enjoyed the open spaces and exploring new areas of his choice. Mohammed enjoys the hard work of the farm such as planting, and taking care of the goats, which he enjoys with clear delight. We can suddenly envision him as he grows into adulthood moving into the role of a farmer, specializing in animal husbandry, perhaps even specializing in the growing Indian concern of raising animals and growing food which is organic and healthy.
Fatima, his mom, notes that seeing Mohammed as such a natural has increased her own expectations for his future. She says, “Seeing Mohammed at the farm has given me insights into his abilities and things we need to work on”. They imagine that this family farm is Mohammed’s legacy – they can envision him inheriting this farm as an adult. Fatima and her husband have found themselves referring to the farm as “Mohammad’s Farm” and he is likely to be the future owner of it. Mohammad has a sense of belonging and his image and competency was boosted, which has helped open up more roles for him. This move of the family has been so successful, even as the family realises the joys of minimalism and blossoming of Mohammed, they are seriously contemplating moving to the farm permanently. So Mohammed appears to be moving toward the role of a farm owner, and this has had a cascading effect with several other roles coming flowing from it, e.g. animal lover, worker, farmer, nature lover and so many more. We wish Mohammed well, and are so pleased to hear about the directions his life is taking, and how, even in the midst of adversity, his life is opening up, and his is growing into it.
The concept of Model Coherency, as introduced in Social Role Valorization principles, is partly about finding the right fit – the right person in the right place in the right manner. It is likely that Mohammed’s life in the metropolis of Bangalore may never have exposed him to such a complementary experience. In this way, the pandemic has brought a life-changing opportunity into his life that no one could have predicted. Mohammed’s experience living on the farm in some new valued roles makes it clear that when that fit starts to happen, possibilities open up.