Jacqueline Lee is an InTheField Traveler with GlobalGiving who is visiting our partners’ projects throughout Southeast Asia. Her “Postcard” from the visit in Malaysia:
Children’s laughter, coloring time, puzzles, math worksheets, and outside exercise… the activities, sights, and sounds of school.
April 20 I visited Wings Melaka, but this “school” was different - this is a Center for Developmental Disabilities. The youth at this center are special needs, and the “teachers” and staff are dedicated professionals and parents working to provide learning opportunities to achieve the youth’s full potential. Upon arrival in Melaka, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, I was greeted by Executive Director, Dr. Boon Hock Lim, at the bus station.
Immediately we departed for Wings Melaka’s location to visit staff and experience the work of Wings first hand. I toured the facility, seeing all of the toys and resoouces available for parents and the youth. Their resource library was full of dvd’s, books, trainings, educational toys, and more. After I was able to observe and help out at Wings' School Age Programme observing the class and spending time with the kids. The teachers were committed, patient, and creative making sure each student was busy completing his and her activities for the day. Some of the students' favorite activites were coloring and some were puzzles.
At the end of the day, I sat in on the weekly Parent Support meeting (Coffee Session) where parents can share struggles, experiences, and questions to support each other raising children with special needs. Some of their children were autistic, some hyperactive, and some had very rare developmental diseases. The parents opened up and began to share their experiences both with Wings and their children for example when they found out their child had a form of developmental disability like Autism and then the process of finding the right support and education. All of the parents shared the improvements they have seen with their children after being at Wings. There were tears, laughter, and encouragement.
A unique aspect of Wings' program that inspired me was that at least 1 parent/guardian is required to attend sessiona and practice with their kids. This is because Boon Hock explained to me that the learning process only BEGINS at Wings, but in order to make progress it must be continued at home consistently. Wings Melaka is providing the tools and training for the youth and their families for a brighter future with options, possibilities, and hope when before it was a future full of questions and fear. Also, it was wonderful to see kids, staff, and parents from all backgrounds, languages and cultures – all seeking a better future for their children.
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