Project #11371

Educating young blind children for a better future

by St. Nicholas' Home, Penang
Hii working on his fine motor skills.
Hii working on his fine motor skills.

The month of November is here in-conjunction with 2016 Giving Tuesday campaign!

It is also Hii’s birthday as he just celebrated his 5th birthday on the 01st of November and is progressing tremendously well in our home’s Early Intervention Programme.For the year 2016, there are two main goals set for Hii. Firstly, to interact and play with other children and secondly is to increase his mobility outdoors with minimal supervision.

Hii not only has improved his understanding of commands to perform tasks but has also developed his ability to understand and converse well in English. Hii enjoys using his tablet most of the time and our trainers are now working on accelerating his interaction with family members.

Besides that, to increase his level of Malay communication skills, we are also encouraging him to listen to Malay nursery rhymes and songs to familiarize with the language as it’s the national language and it’s vital for his communication in future. Conversing with Hii in multiple languages will also boost his brain cognitive functions.

This year, Hii’s motor skills have also improved greatly as he is now able to move around the house without help and is working on outdoor mobility with minimal supervision. He enjoys the sessions we have at the toy library and enjoys the outdoors, however his time outdoors are usually reduced because of his medical condition. Hii is also very good at his sessions in the toy library working on puzzles, patterns and sequencing games.

In exactly two more years, Hii will graduate from our programme. Our goal is to ensure that Hii will be able to move around and explore outdoors with minimum supervision and increase his interaction with children of his own age. We hope that our work with him will help him adapt when he is enrolled in a special school.

Your help will go a long way in ensuring the sustainability of the Early Intervention Programme and for our team to reach out to special children like Hii.

Xuan having her physio session
Xuan having her physio session

Meet Xuan, she was born in 2012 and diagnosed with Global Development Delay, epilepsy, cerebral palsy and Cortical blindness. Xuan comes from a supportive home, her parents enrolled her in a Spastic School in 2014. When she came to St Nicholas she was able to interact with the teachers by smiling but was not able to talk, she was also not able to sit up or move around, was completely dependent on her mother or other caregivers for daily activities and was also not able to focus on objects.

Within the past year we have seen a slow but noticeable improvement in Xuan, with some basic physiotherapy training like passive stretching exercises we see that Xuan has begun to be able to move herself and sit up with only minimal supervision. By teaching her caregivers and parents these exercises she is now on a steady path to being able to move around independently.  Along with working on her motor skills we have also begun developing her social skills, by spending time with her and doing some basic vocal exercise we see that she has now been able to recognize and can interact with the teacher but she still needs the teachers support to do these activities.

Her slowest growth can be seen in her ability to understand language, she can reproduce sounds she hears around her from her parents or teachers but is unable to produce any identifiable sounds on her own.  Here at St Nicholas we are still very hopeful and confident that with time and patience she will slowly learn to understand language and respond to her teachers, strengthen her muscle tone and balance on her own when sitting up.

With your support, we can continue to work with Xuan and who knows, one Xuan may greet us with more than a smile.

Sarv in his mother
Sarv in his mother's arms

Sarv is six years old; he lives at home with his mother, an elder brother and a younger sister.  He was born 26 weeks premature with not only stage 1 Bilateral ROP which led to low vision but also physical problems like twisted legs which do not allow him to walk. Due to the lack of exercise his muscles have not developed properly and have become stiff. Unfortunately Sarv comes from a broken home. His father, an unemployed abusive alcoholic who rarely comes home and does not support his family in any way.

When we first met Sarv, he was living in a two bedroom apartment which lacked basic necessities like chairs, tables and beds. His diet was mostly liquid and thus lead to his malnutrition, which was a major contributing factor to the lack of physical development. Due to his mother’s financial situation and with two other children to take care of, she did not have access to any form of transportation to take Sarv to any of his doctor’s appointment. As a result Sarv had not received any medical attention prior to our visit. We immediately sent some basic food and rations to his home in order to help improve his standard of living whilst we helped formulated a plan to help him get back onto the road to recovery and sourced some secondary sources of income and support through organisations like JKM and NOG.

In the short time we have worked with Sarv we have seen tremendous improvement, through the physiotherapy training we have seen better movement of the legs, arms and hips and with the help of the teachers at St. Nicholas he is now learning how to interact with the outside world.  In our most recent visit we are happy to report that Sarvethiran can not only balance himself and is now able to recognise alphabets, everyday objects and familiar faces.

His trainer said that, “ When I started to help Sarv he was not very responsive and quite often resisted and cried during the exercises but over time he has been able to recognize me and smiles when I come for our sessions. It is great to see that he is improving so quickly and is much healthier than when I first came to visit him, I believe that soon enough he will be learning how to read and write.”

Since his last session with our teachers and trainers, we have begun working on being able to read, write, count and draw.This would not have been possible without the loving support we receive from all of you through your generous donations. To maximize the impact of your donation, donate on the 15th of june. Global giving will match your donation dollar for dollar on this day. 


Doing her exercises
Doing her exercises

This is Ari, she is one of the youngest members of our family here at St. Nicholas Home at just 5 years old. When Ari was born she was diagnosed with congenital Hydrocephalus which lead to cortical blindness, she was referred to St. Nicholas at the tender age of 1 year and 5 months. She wasn’t able to turn her body on her own, lacked the motor skills needed for sucking and swallowing and wasn’t responding to stimuli in her environment. Her age also meant that she lacked some basic development, such as control and function of head, arms and legs.

Her condition made it more challenging for our instructors to prioritize which activities would be more critical for her growth and development as a child. Our instructors decided to focus first on motor skills. With the patient guidance of our skilled trainers and Ari’s supportive family we were able to help her improve her motor functions. At our latest visit she was able to sit up, balance herself while standing up and had no redness or swelling in any part of her body as a result of stress on the muscles near the joints. After her training in motor skill got going, we began to work on her social and communication skills. Recently she has been able to recognize not only her teachers but also been able to communicate through gestures and is slowly beginning to comprehend words. This is a huge step forward, as we can begin to show her how she can express how she feels to those around her.

Ari’s journey has not been an easy one; she lives at home with her family in another state, quite a distance from St. Nicholas. We were not able to visit her as often as we’d like but by teaching her family members the exercises and periodically checking in, in-between sessions with the trainer we have been able to help her consistently improve over the years.

We at St. Nicholas Home are very proud of Ari’s progress and it has only been possible because of the donations we are receiving from Global Giving, thank you all for your very generous contributions and support. This support is what allows us to continue to help children like Ari significantly improve their chances for a more independent lives and brighter future.

Ravin learning about shapes.
Ravin learning about shapes.

Meet Ravin*! He is currently 9 years old and has been at St. Nicholas’ Home for 2 years. He is diagnosed with congenital Rubella Syndrome, which has caused extremely low vision, sensorineural deafness, and hyperactive behavior. He arrived here when he was 7 years old and two short years later he has had many accomplishments and growth. Ravin lives at St. Nicholas’ Home and travels home to stay with his parents during school holidays. While at St. Nicholas Home, Ravin works on gaining cognitive and motor skills, learning daily living activities, and increasing his communication skills.


When Ravin came to St. Nicholas’ Home, he struggled to express himself and he was completely dependent on his caregivers. Ravin now is gaining independence through learning how to communicate via gestures, signs, and objects. This has helped him to gain confidence in navigating his surroundings and completing daily living tasks. He is no longer diaper dependent and has learned to eat with limited supervision.


Our goal is to help all students in the Deaf Blind Multi Handicapped Program to gain independence and learn skills that will help them grow toward this goal. Ravin has had significant progress toward gaining more independence and learning living skills. Ravin is now walking on his own, navigating his dormitory on his own, feeding himself and communicating with his caregivers at St. Nicholas’ Home.


Ravin and many other children need your help! St. Nicholas’ Home is helping children like Ravin grow and learn. If you would like to help Ravin and the other children at St. Nicholas’ Home please consider financially supporting our Deaf Blind and Multi Handicapped Program.


*Not his real name


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Organization Information

St. Nicholas' Home, Penang

Location: Georgetown, Penang - Malaysia
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Daniel Aik Bin Soon
Bagan Jermal, Penang Malaysia

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