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Jun 21, 2018

Understanding Uma

Uma smiling for the first time!
Uma smiling for the first time!

Thirteen year old Uma came to us in early April this year through an order of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), Tiruvannamalai District, in the State of Tamil Nadu. Apparently, she was found wandering the streets of Nedungavadi Village by a good samaritan who handed her over to the CWC. Uma was temporarily sheltered in a reception unit for girls until the Probation Officer from the Department of Social Defense could submit his findings. She was taken to the District Office for the Differently-Abled and assessed as moderately intellectually disabled. Despite many attempts, the good samaritan could not be reached on the number he provided, and as no one came forward to claim the child, the CWC decided to send her to us. We are sending monthly reports on her health, the medical treatment she is receiving and our plan for her rehabilitation, to the CWC.

Uma is able to identify objects but she cannot read, speak or write; she cannot identify or even copy numbers at this time. She has no concept of time and is dependent on caregivers for grooming activity. She can eat on her own and especially loves biryani (a spicy and very tasty mixed rice dish). It is a good thing that she can differentiate between eatable and non-eatable substances. She does not socialize and prefers to be left alone. She manifests problem behaviors like self-injury, biting others and screaming. Our doctor and psychologist are working with her. She is also hyperactive. Although Uma speaks in monosyllables she is able to understand and respond to instructions. Luckily, her physiotherapy report is more positive than the other assessments showing that she has good motor skills, physical balance and coordination, and good muscle tone.  

Our work with Uma starts now. Analysing and studying her to work out the most appropriate rehabilitation programs is a large part of what we do, yet not as large a part as loving her back to wholeness!

Mar 23, 2018

Sri Arunodayam spreads a message of acceptance on World Down Syndrome Day; Engages youth in the city

Moosan - the poster child of our WDSD campaign
Moosan - the poster child of our WDSD campaign

March 21st was World Down Syndrome Day, and Sri Arunodayam took its campaign to two city colleges in Chennai, India in an attempt to engage the youth – the future parents of a new generation.  Conducting multi-level awareness campaigns at various locations and digitally via its website and Social Media, Sri Arunodayam sought to increase awareness, helping people understand the need to make our society more inclusive.

Campaigns at the home

At the home, Sri Arunodayam celebrated the life of Moosan (one of our children with Down syndrome). Moosan’s story and a multi-lingual Quick Facts poster on Down syndrome was displayed at prominent locations across the home inviting visitors to engage on the topic. The home’s children were also dressed in the official colors of blue and yellow, the cumulative effect of which was the ability to engage visitors, helping them understand the need to make  society a more welcoming place for persons with Down syndrome. 

Campaigns at the Colleges

Together with the colleges’ Social Work Departments, Sri Arunodayam staff conducted awareness programs by giving presentations and running signature campaigns at two colleges in the city of Chennai. Our staff provided a detailed picture of what life is like for people with Down syndrome and held a quick FAQ to enlighten students on acceptable and non-acceptable social mores.

It is a matter of grave concern to Sri Arunodayam that despite huge progress being made today in media and technology, young people appear unaware and uninformed of critical life issues such as intellectual disability. Our interaction with the students revealed a very real and definite need to reach out to our country’s youth, to enlighten and engage them on important life issues – issues that could well impact not only their lives, but the lives of their children, and thus future generations!

We were able to instruct them that discriminating against differently abled people or thinking that they are less valuable as human beings is the first and the greatest lesson to be learned. The Heads of the Social Work Departments requested Sri Arunodayam to conduct regular awareness programs at their campus, and we are considering a plan for sustained campaigning at schools and colleges in the new financial year. The signature campaign turned out to be a great success as it encouraged the students to contemplate and express their thoughts on Down syndrome.

“World Down Syndrome Day is a global awareness day officially observed by the United Nations since 2012”, says Iyyappan Subramaniyan, Sri Arunodayam’s Founder & Managing Trustee. “We are happy to celebrate it for the first time at Sri Arunodayam. Our many planned activities to spread awareness proved to be a win-win situation where we not only taught people but also learned many new things about Down syndrome and its worldwide movement. Persons with Down syndrome should be given equal status, opportunities, and the respect they truly deserve in our society. We must ensure that such opportunities are provided to enable them to contribute to society in a meaningful way. At Sri Arunodayam, we will continue to strive for the betterment and empowerment of persons living with Down syndrome so that they can lead a dignified life, which is their inherent right.”   

Moosan – the poster child of our Down syndrome campaign is spreading a message of true empathy and compassion – something that our society desperately needs today. Read his story here:

Campaign at the College
Campaign at the College
Working with the Social Work Departments
Working with the Social Work Departments


Mar 6, 2018

A beautiful life doesn't come easy! He works at it.

Displaying the bag he made entirely on his own!
Displaying the bag he made entirely on his own!

Satish appears to remember his father (an auto rickshaw driver) who abandoned him at the Mylapore Railway Station, Chennai on the 2nd of June 2005 when he was just 12 years old. He remembers obediently waiting at the spot his father instructed him to stay at. Sadly, the man never returned to claim Satish, and Don Bosco Anbu Illam rescued him and sent him to us. Understandably, the child was hurt and withdrawn and it took us quite a while to coax him out of his depression and get him interested in the world around him.

Satish lives with mild intellectual disability and has regular bouts of fits. Silent by nature, he's a hands-on type of person who prefers to work on the most challenging tasks before him. He appears to have finally found himself. Satish was a top student in our Special Education program and became a top student at Prayatna – our vocational training center, where he blossomed into the calm and capable young man that he is today.

All of 24, and a perfectionist, Satish is our top performer at Prayatna too where he's pretty much mastered all the vocational activities! From making candles to painting lamps to binding books to neatly wrapping products… no one beats Satish yet! On the personal front, he's extremely finicky about cleanliness and loves to keep himself, his work station and his favourite haunts scrupulously clean. Satish is also a recognized sportsman in running and long jump. He's a State player recognized by the District Differently Abled Welfare Office (DDAWO), Chennai.

We are incredibly proud of this young man who chooses not to let his past overshadow his life. It’s not that he’s forgotten the sad incident but that he bears his sorrow with a quiet dignity and calm acceptance while continuing to put his best foot forward each day. This is a beautiful life from which we have much to learn!

Children are a priceless gift. They aren’t given to us because we are special or entitled, but because they can make our lives special as we choose to receive and love them. If you are interested in making a difference in the life of a young lad like Satish, please call our office and schedule a visit. There are 34 other young men like him whose lives can be transformed with a little help!

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