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Equip deafblind children with skills for life!

by St. Nicholas' Home, Penang
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Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Equip deafblind children with skills for life!
Jimmy exploring the shapes of the statue
Jimmy exploring the shapes of the statue

Deaf –Blindness refers to combination of hearing and visual loss that severely impedes communication, education, employment and independent living. In this case jimmy’s story is an inspiring ones. Jimmy is a quiet and gentle 13 year old from Penang who is much loved by all his fellow classmates and teachers. His teachers mainly describe him as jovial and passionate about food.

Jimmy was born with a bilateral hearing problem as part of rubella syndrome. As he grew, he encountered several developmental delays and learning difficulties as well as being mute. When he was 7, his vision began to deteriorate, leaving him totally blind and multi-handicapped. This was diagnosed as bilateral chronic retinal detachment.

Before he joined St. Nicholas’ Home in 2015, he was overly sheltered and lacked many skills. He threw tantrums when asked to do things independently and was also unable to feed and dress himself. As jimmy is both deaf and blind, he is unable to speak, making tactile signals his main mode of communication. This makes it quite difficult to communicate with him.

From a boy who could only move independently inside his house and had limited skills, he has now mastered most of the skills taught in deaf-blind and multi-handicapped classroom and he has grown to be very independent and obedient. He enjoys following a strict routine which has been set up with the aid of his teachers, and usually protests to any deviation from it.

Jimmy has a sharp senses of direction, after breakfast he does not want to be guided like his peers to the classroom. He is the apple of most of the housemothers, teachers and volunteers. He seeking attention by humming and approaches to hug his teachers and caregivers when he agrees to or likes something. Jimmy has learnt many things very quickly and he responds well to instructions by sign language.

Jimmy is now able to feed and use a white cane independently. He is also able to walk long distances on his own and understand signals such as when to return his bottle to his bag from his table and when to bring his cutlery and plates to the washing area. He loves taking morning walk, using the seesaw and going for outings. He also enjoys spicy food (especially sambal belacan with curry) and fast foods but hates vegetables and fruits. One of jimmy’s favourites past times is playing and wrestling with his best friend and fellow classmate Raagavan, who is also deaf and blind.

He manage to learn how to cope with his disabilities despite being very young and having little guidance in his early life to become the strong and loving boy that he is today. Jimmy’s progress has been outstanding so far as he continues to surprise with his resilience and there is no doubt that he will only grow stronger as time goes on.

Jimmy loves outing especially cold place
Jimmy loves outing especially cold place
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Siti with the lovely  volunteer,Katja Foerderer
Siti with the lovely volunteer,Katja Foerderer

I wish to share with everyone a story which is very close to my heart. It is a story about a girl named Siti. She was born blind on 25 April 2001. Doctors has diagnosed her of having median cleft syndrome, a birth defect condition that left her face and upper lip, nasal deformed.

Siti was in the care of her grandfather from a very young age. Her mother was herself intellectually impaired as was not able to care for Siti.

Little Siti was sent to St. Nicholas Home (placed in Deaf, Blind & Multiple Handicapped - DBMH) at the age of 8 when her grandfather was unable to find stable work and provide care for her anymore. It was a painful sight when she just arrived St. Nicholas Home. She was weak, unable to walk, under nourished and had difficulties communicating.

Due to her birth defects, speaking and eating posed great challenge for little Siti. She could not speak and chew her food properly at first. Thanks to years of speech therapy and rehabilitation sessions, little Siti was able to speak more clearly now. As time progresses, she had even started to dance while humming her favourite songs. 

Bubbly Siti have touched many hearts. Despite her disabilities, she faced each day cheerfully and with happiness. I greatly respect and admire her positivity and strength.

Transforming  tears of sadness to tears of joy, Siti should an example to us all.

Siti loves to smile and stay happy
Siti loves to smile and stay happy
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Vind enjoying the swing.
Vind enjoying the swing.

Here is a story about a handsome young man named Vind who loves to play the swing.

Vind will be turning 14 year old in September 2018. He was born with a condition known as Glaucoma. It is an eye disease that is often associated with elevated intraocular pressure, in which damage to the eye (optic) nerve can lead to loss of vision and even blindness. Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world. Due to his poor condition, he needs assistance to manage his daily routines.

Previously, he was with our Early Intervention Program (EIP) from he was two years old. However when he was six years old, he was sent to a special needs school for primary followed by secondary education until he reached 13 years old. He was released from the school because he had difficulties in learning, lack of attention and his progress was very slow than the other students. Despite being a slow learner he is able to communicate in Tamil, which is his mother tongue, but Malay (our national language) and English is still beyond him. Apart of having Glaucoma, Vind is also diagnose with some degree of mental retardation which explains his poor social skills. 

According to Vind’s teacher, since Vind joined the Deaf Blind Multi-Handicapped programme in April 2018, his progress has been slow. Vind is classified as trainee in Group 1 (G1). Which means he will only learn basic living skills. Vind is currently learning to count from 1 to 5 (cognitive skills), how to properly wash his hands and walk with assistance (daily living skills). 

Despite of his condition, an adolescence will always be an adolescence! Just like other youngsters, Vind’s favorite food are snacks and cakes. He prefer to sleep or just ‘hangout’ by himself most of the time. However, when he is on the swing, he turns into a whole new person. Just like most people, playing on the swing makes him so happy and helps him release some of his frustration. Just imagine that when we are on the swing, the feeling of flying and freedom can really boost our mood and improve our quality of life. We hope that starting Vind off with some basic living skill will enable him to aspire to greater independence in the coming days.

Vind's World.
Vind's World.
Vind's bright smile while jumping.
Vind's bright smile while jumping.
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Wen by the beach.
Wen by the beach.

We usually tend to think that people living with low vision or blindness must walk through the world with care and trepidation. We think they must be extra careful because they wouldn’t know what obstacle they might suddenly bump into or it must be difficult to judge how far one place to another is.

Well… Let me tell you about Wen.

Wen joined the DBMH program in 2017. He was diagnosed with Retinal Detachment on both eyes and ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Due to his Retinal Detachment, his hyper activeness is greatly reinforced. He has difficulties with concentration and focus. In addition, he suffers seizures from Epilepsy. This forced him to leave formal schooling at age 12.

Amazingly he is able to communicate in three languages – that is English, Bahasa Malaysia and Hokkien, a local dialect! He’s extremely independent and even likes to lend a hand to his friends in their daily life. He takes on “jobs” such as guiding his friends into the classroom or helping to pack his friends bags and water bottles.

He loves to sing and knows almost all the lyrics of the songs he likes. His all-time favourite music artist is Charlie Puth - and his favourite song is “Attention”… If you ask me this matches his personality almost perfectly.

One thing can be said about Wen… He definitely has a talent for music. Wherever he has the chance to grab a guitar or play on the piano – he grasps it!

He loves to jumps, run (mostly running away from you…) and laugh. He’s definitely the most active child we have ever came across. No matter the situation, he always finds a reason to laugh, sing or yell at the top of his lungs.

He lights up a room only with his presence by greeting everyone inside of the room and introducing you to everyone. But his sunny disposition belies a life that is full of challenges and difficulties.

Today he’s 15 years old. We can luckily say that he found a home in St. Nicholas’ Home and friends that he can give support to and get support from. We pray that Wen will continue to have a smile for everyone he meets and we will strive to give him a loving environment to grow up in.

Wen enjoy swimming.
Wen enjoy swimming.
Wen is running fast.
Wen is running fast.
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Chee first ferry trip.
Chee first ferry trip.

“My biggest dream is to see my child become independent and able to take care of himself”. With these hopeful words, Chee’s father registered his son in the DBMH program in St. Nicholas’ Home.

If you think the name sounds familiar, you would not be wrong.

Back in 2014 little Chee already appeared on our Global Giving Page. Now he returns as a 14 year old teenager with his spirit undiminished.

Due to his premature birth, Chee, the eldest of twin brother, was diagnosed with Retina Pigmentosa leading to total blindness and a learning deficiency. Apart from that he was also diagnosed with hyperactivity (ADHD).

Arriving at St. Nicholas Home in 2009 Chee was only able to understand and follow simple instructions in mandarin or malay. Chee had difficulties with gross and fine motor skills, making it tough for him to climb staircase, identify objects, walking from the classroom to dormitory. With speech impediments, even calling out the names of his friends during group activities is a challenge for him. He required full assistance for daily living skills such as  feeding, drinking and dressing himself.

Now approximately 8 years later Chee has made tremendous improvements. He has developed a keen sense for orientation inside the home and can walk freely from one place to the other. His fine motor skills have also improved significantly through threading exercises. But most importantly Chee has become completely independent when it comes to self-management tasks such as eating, dressing and drinking. In retrospective, we can note that Chee learned a lot through our DBMH program.

On the other hand, his presence has enriched  all of us the teachers and the students alike. As a volunteer from Germany staying for 11 months at St. Nicholas’ Home, I personally appreciate Chee’s presence in particular.

His curiosity about the small things in life and his enthusiasm are so wonderful to behold. Especially in a time when most people are chasing after materialistic enjoyment, Chee’s joy about simple things such as the feel of water, the sound of music or just playing with rubber balls, has been a motivation and encouragement for all of us.

“Shared happiness is doubled happiness” this also goes for Chee, just by watching him laughing, brings happiness to everyone around him.

He is a hero and role model for all of us.

 

Chee is boiling an egg.
Chee is boiling an egg.
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Organization Information

St. Nicholas' Home, Penang

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

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