St. Nicholas' Home, Penang

Our vision is of a nation that is free of barriers, where blind & visually impaired persons are not discriminated against; to have the same rights and responsibilities, share equal opportunities & the quality of life that is available to their sighted peers. Our mission is to provide education, training & employment opportunities in a caring environment, thus empowering blind & visually impaired persons to fully participate in society while helping to promote the prevention of blindness.
Aug 7, 2014

The boy of who catches hearts!

Terrence is a five-year-old boy who was born with Congenital Blindness and lives with his parents in Perak, North west Malaysia. During the day when both parents are at work, he spends time with the grandparents who have abundant love for their only grandson.

Terrence recognizes people by their voices and interacts with surroundings through touch, smell, and sound. He can speak three different Chinese languages and is able to communicate basics in Malay and English. However, from the beginning it was not this easy. Visual impairment comes with its own challenges; it takes ways of learning in which teachers and parents have to give so much of their support and the best reward is, of course, watching him grow to an independent capable child. Terrence’s friendliness catches hearts, he identifies people with the touch of their hands and asks, “Who is this?” if there is someone he is meeting for the first time.  He speaks gently with adults, especially elderly people.

Early Intervention Program is a program in which teachers are sent to the house of children in early ages to help them with their education and also to consult with parents and give them suggestions of how they can assist their children to learn specific skills that will benefit them in the future. In the beginning of this program, when the teachers met Terrence for the first time, they set up particular goals such as walking with the cane independently, holding it in the correct direction, and gaining the courage to go outside the house for outdoor activities and interact with people. He is now able to walk around by himself with minimum assistance and identify objects.  Another objective was to overcome the language barrier. In the beginning he could speak only Chinese and that made it hard to communicate with teachers or others outside the family. Through this programme, Terrence learned Malay and English word by word and now uses them regularly in conversations especially when the teachers ask him to.

Beauty exists where there is love.  It is in the words of the teacher who learned simple Chinese words to communicate with him, and the efforts of the parents who desire to see their son develop day by day. It was a journey, a very unique journey that only Terrence can feel and talk about perfectly. Maybe one day, when he grows to a young man, he can complete this writing knowing how precious he was, how everyone wanted him to be the best he could.

“20 years from now, Terrence might be a successful businessman, like his father, and I believe with his potential, he can do all that he wants.”

This was said by the teacher who travels 6 hours every two weeks to meet Terrence to give him new ways of learnings and record down the detailed improvements. For now the next steps are getting him prepared for school, starting to learn braille and be exposed to another world, a world of children where he gets opportunities to socialize with and experience new types of friendships.  

We are happy and proud of Terrence's good progress and with donations received through Global Giving; we can continue to help Terrence and other children in the programme towards improving their lives for a bigger and brighter future! Therefore, we would like to thank all our contributors form the bottom of our hearts for your support and donations.

Aug 7, 2014

Children of St Nicholas' Home

Thurga first joined this residential programme in March 2012 at the age of 12. At present she is 14 years old and continuing with the Deaf Blind and Multi Handicapped programme. Thurga was diagnosed with congenital blindness, mental retardation and Autism. Though Thurga can hear and understand simple commands, she is not able to talk and communicates only through gestures. Thurga’s main challenges are her aggressiveness and her tendency to throw tantrums. She has mood swings whenever she is uncomfortable.  Thurga did not had any proper training in any skills all this while as she was left alone by herself and thus has developed improper behaviour.

 It has been two years now since Thurga enrolled in the Deaf Blind and Multi Handicapped programme. In these 2 years, Thurga has been referred for regular medical intervention at a nearby hospital. She continues her follow up schedule with the Psychiatrist, Paediatrics, Neuro and Endocrine specialist and she has shown some overall improvement in her behaviour modification. Her frequent tantrums and aggressiveness has lessened and it has also improved her sleeping pattern at night.

Thurga is able to recognise people with their voices and touch. She is able to under simple commands in English and Tamil and able to respond to our commands though slow at times. Thuga likes to be praised and handled with gentle care and does not like loud voices or sounds. She also likes to be cuddled and hugged by familiar people.

Even though Thurga is able to understand the commands from her teachers, she can only communicate through gestures to indicate whenever she is hungry or feeling uncomfortable. She has different sounds and gestures to indicate her happiness or when she is in pain. She has now learnt to indicate through gestures for her toileting, hunger and pain.

Thurga has also shown some improvement in her walking pattern after continuous walking exercise and Physiotherapy sessions. Her ability to walk to her classrooms on her own is an indication of her improvement from when she first came to St Nicholas’ Home. Though she still has balancing problem, she is able to control herself. As such, she tends to walk with her head down and our Physiotherapist is currently working to teach her neck control.

Thurga is still dependent on her caregivers for her daily needs.  She needs constant verbal instructions to do a task and most of the time she needs hand over hand techniques. She has learned to wear her shoes, cloths and feed herself with very minimum assistance from teachers and caregivers. Other skills such as Toileting, bathing and brushing teeth still need training.

For the past two years, with constant attention and teaching from her teachers, Thurga has shown to us that with proper guidance, it is possible for children such as Thurga to achieve their full potential and gain the ability to be as independent as they can be.

As we continue to help children such as Thurga through the Deaf Blind and Multi Handicapped progamme at St Nicholas’ Home, we would like thank you for your generous contribution to our DBMH programme and for making a change in the lives of these children!

May 9, 2014

Mirza's Story

Early intervention is a process, whereby babies and young children with visual impairment (both totally blind and low vision children who face considerable risk developmentally, are given help and support in learning skills, thus helping them to develop in the areas of psychomotor, cognitive and social to the most optimum level possible. Early intervention extends support and counseling to parents of children with visual impairments to help them cope with the trauma, emotions and challenges of caring for their children.

The Early Intervention Program is a home-based program whereby our full-time coordinators, makes frequent visits to the homes to give advice, support and help parents with strategies and approaches on how to raise their child with visual impairment. An interdisciplinary approach is adopted whereby the assistance of ophthalmologists, optometrists, social workers and other health care workers from various agencies and ministries are sought in the coordination of early intervention services to the family.

An Individualized Training Plan (IEP) is drawn up to meet the individual needs of every child every 6 months based on assessment profiles and priority goals of the parents.

In one of the visits, our team found out about Mirza. The child was born on 01/01/08 and was detected with “Retinopathy of Prematurity”. In layman’s terms, it is a disease that affects immature vasculature in the eyes of premature babies. It can be mild with no visual defects, or it may become aggressive with new blood vessel formation (neovascularization) and progress to retinal detachment and blindness. He was completely blind and our team took charge of him since 26/02/09.

The little one was the youngest of his five siblings. The parents were not equipped to deal with his incapacity . The task of the EIP was to make the child  improve in basic skills of living . The milestones which are easy for a normal child is a humungous task for the impaired and often the parents are incapable of understanding it.

Since then Mirza has been under the constant supervision and training and is expected to go out of the EIP programme and step up to the next level by end of 2014. Apart from being blind , he is affected with cerebral palsy . He has inability to stand on his own and all his cognitive skills are delayed. Soft diet is what he is able to have.

Continuous effort of the team has enabled him to reach milestones though in delay. He is now able to walk with help. His cognitive skills have improved from 12% to 69% . He is able to chew his food and grasp as well . He makes significant movements and is able to be happy in his surroundings . He recognizes his parents and also makes a sound for calling the mother as “ mamam” .

Mirza has shown great improvement and has graduated now to primary school at the age of 5. He is in the process of learning alphabets as well and is showing skills to lead a more independent life then what he was deemed for. His physiotherapy sessions are now being done by Program Pemulihan Dalam Komuniti (PDK) which is the “Community-Based Rehabilitation" (CBR).

Although Mirza may not be able to lead a perfectly normal life because of his multiple disabilities, yet with early intervention to tackle his disability, we are sure he would have much better compatibility with his surroundings. Most encouraging is the fact that his household is now equipped to deal with him with grace and accept him as a member with special needs.

Mirza would cease to be in EIP this year end and hopefully would graduate to the next level. We hope and pray for his success to cope well. 

We at St Nicholas Home are very proud of Mirza’s good progress and with donations received through Global Giving; we can continue to help Mirza and other children in the programme towards improving their lives for a bigger and brighter future! Therefore, we would like to thank all our contributors for your support and donations.

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