When you see Muthu digging the soil or watering plants, you know he is in his element. He has a smile on his face. He is focussed on his work and exudes a sense of calmness.
But Muthu wasn’t always this calm or peaceful.
Just a few years ago, Muthu was an angry teen. His entire focus was to get out of the Boys’ Home and live independently.
As a young man with mild mental retardation, Muthu managed his daily activities better than some of his peers at the Home.
But, Muthu struggled with depression, anger and mood swings. He would often lash out at the other boys, displaying his anger by punching others.
Muthu refused treatment or counselling at the government-run mental care hospital which worked with the Boys’ Home residents.
Finally, after repeated tries, U&I’s staff member at the Home, Jayraj, was able to make some headway with Muthu. He explained to Muthu that he is still unable to live on his own. That he needed to learn more about daily responsibilities. He counselled Muthu about managing his anger. He redirected him to different daily tasks and vocational activities. He invited Muthu to help him in the garden.
Muthu took to gardening. He tended to the plants in the Boys’ Home every day. Slowly, with counselling and training, there was a change in Muthu. He stopped lashing out in anger. He learned to control his emotions and focus instead on his routine.
There are other Muthus at the Boys’ Home. But U&I is working individually with each of them to make sure they live to their fullest potential.
Working in government-run Homes and with abandoned special needs individuals has its own set of challenges. Sometimes, it takes many many attempts to get through to one child. But we're in it for the long haul. It's been eight years of working with these boys. And we're not stopping any time soon.
It’s never easy. But it’s always worth it.