Equip deafblind children with skills for life!

by St. Nicholas' Home, Penang
Vetted
Daniel making raibow rice
Daniel making raibow rice

Thirteen-year-old Daniel has suffered from retinopathy of prematurity and total blindness since birth. Also, his left wrist is deformed and both thumbs don’t function at all. Having stayed in the Deaf-Blind and Multi-Handicapped Program (DBMH) for more than six years, Daniel has changed a lot. He was originally aggressive and easy to get angry; through the training at St. Nicholas Home, he would no longer attack others and even becomes the most independent student in class. He has learned to wash hands with soap after toilet and before eating, feed himself, wash his own plates, wear shoes and clothes, help teachers turn off lights and fans, close windows, pick up teaching materials and etc. The thumbs problem seems not an obstruction for Daniel.

 

Daniel is quite an active and brave boy who is filled with curiosity and not afraid of falling down on the ground when first coming to a new environment. With much energy all the time, Daniel always takes the lead of all classmates. While others are walking on the round track, Daniel has started to speed up and go jogging. While everyone is warming up and counting to 5, Daniel has counted to 10. As a fast leaner and doer, Daniel is always the first one arriving at the classroom, toilet, dormitory and dining hall.

 

In the aspects of communication ability and speech clarity, however, Daniel needs more training. Now when being asked questions, his expression is through being active as well as through sound, touch, or only a couple of words.

 

In 2016, we made an annual plan for Daniel, who is being trained to recognize braille alphabets K toT, verbalize in more than three words for his needs, walk using a cane, do household tasks and fold clothes.

Daniel having fun
Daniel having fun
Ah Sheng
Ah Sheng

Today I would like to introduce you to Sheng, unlike most of the other children in St.Nicholas Ah Sheng came to us at the age of 11. He is visually impaired and unable to walk on his own, before coming to St.Nicholas Sheng had 6 years of prior education at a specialized school and has developed basic social and communication skills but lacks cognitive, gross and fine motor skills. But this hasn’t stopped him from being joyful and outgoing, he not only greets his friends but also communicates with the teachers and staff. Due to his age Sheng had already developed the cognitive and language skills that most children at St.Nicholas are not equipped with. This helped the teachers as now they could focus their efforts on helping Sheng build on his motor skills, daily living and cognitive skills, but this wasn’t going to be easy as Sheng is a slow learner.

Over the past 6 months we are proud to announce that Sheng has seen considerable improvement, he can now move himself from the wheelchair to his bed or a chair and is also learning to walk using a frame. With the help of our teachers and trainers he has also been able to work on his fine motor skills and is able to grip objects firmly like toothbrushes or sticks and transfer objects from one container to the next. Skills like these have allowed Sheng to become more independent as he can now put on clothes, take a bath and brush his teeth with minimal supervision.

Seeing this progress we have identified some more complex goals, we believe that in the near future Sheng will be able to identify different textures and also be able to use social words appropriately by reading and judging the situation by himself. The amount of time, attention and quality of education we have been able to give to Sheng would not have been possible without the loving support we get from all of you.

To maximize your impact donate on June the 15th,Global Giving has $110,000 in availible matching funds. We will get a matching donation of 40% of our all donations that are made within 9:00:01 EDT and 23:59:59 EDT on June 15th.

Jim Watering his own Ocra Plant
Jim Watering his own Ocra Plant

Jim is the newest addition to our family here at St. Nicholas Home; he came here in 2015 at the tender age of 9. His transition to the Home wasn’t an easy one, Jim was born with Chronic Retinal Detachment and deafness. Before coming to St. Nicholas Jim was under the care of his family and lived at home, he was completely dependent on them for even the most basic of tasks and struggled coping with the change of environment at St. Nicholas as his exposure to the world had been limited to the confines of his own home.

Since Jim joined the St. Nicholas family he has seen tremendous growth in many aspects. When he first came to St. Nicholas his cognitive skills were fairly undeveloped, he was unable to stack blocks, pick out a specific object from an assortment of different objects or even feel simple objects and associate them with the correct shapes with his hands. But after just 8 months of consistent, patient and loving effort he is now able to do all these things and is even learning more complex cognitive functions like opening and closing containers and matching different shapes.

At St. Nicholas we understand the importance of Independence and begin teaching skills that will allow our children to be more independent adults. At the beginning Jim was completely dependent on his family for basic tasks like eating and brushing his teeth but in the short time he has been at St. Nicholas he has been able to use a fork and spoon to eat, brush his teeth and even put on clothes with minimal supervision. Jim has even been able to learn and understand some signs that have been taught to him, this further allows him to express himself and allows him to interact with the outside world. He is able to do things like sign “Good Morning” to his teachers and understand the sign for “Meal time”.

We hope that by the end of the year Jim will be able to improve his focus, do basic tasks on his own without any supervision at all and is able to communicate better  with the teachers at St. Nicholas to help us better understand his needs. Thank you for your undying support in helping us change these children’s lives for the better.

Learning how to make a sandwich
Learning how to make a sandwich
Jin learning about shapes
Jin learning about shapes

Meet Jin*. He’s a 4-year-old boy who is in St. Nicholas’ Home’s Early Intervention Program. JIn suffers from Oculocutaneous Albinism and has been diagnosed with Autism. He also has low vision rendering him almost completely dependent on others since birth.

Jin is an only child who is currently living with his mother and father. He can understand instructions given to him and he interacts well with his family, as well as, other children his age. Like most 4-year-old boys, he’s very adventurous. He likes to explore his surrounding area often.

After being introduced to St. Nicholas’ Home a little over a year ago, the greatest improvement we’ve seen in Jin has been in his communication. He’s learning how to communicate best through repetition. He is also learning how communicate in multiple languages. His parents were encouraged to continue to speak to him in multiple languages to help further his development in communication.

Our hope for Jin is to continue to help develop his communication skills, enhance his cognitive skills, and ultimately push him to live more independently. We are also very encouraged by his parents who have taken a step towards Jin’s development by sending him to Prospect Rainbow, which offers support to children with disabilities.

(*not his real name)

Just as the alarm rings, I hear the same familiar sing song voice saying “Time to wake up!

The truth is, I have been lying awake for a short while now, listening to the patter of quiet steps moving around me. I know these footsteps well. They belong to the ‘house mother’. She is the one who takes care of the six of us who live and sleep in this room. Every day for the last 8 years I have heard them. These steps come towards me and a gentle, firm voice announces that it is morning and it’s time to get up. The steps then move away from me …. always with the same tempo and precision. I continue to listen because I know that within the next few minutes, I will hear Annie’s voice. And true enough, she calls out to me to say hello. She is always cheerful and I am the first person she greets every day. I miss her and the rest of my four room mates when their relatives take them home during holidays or for celebrations. I spend those times with my house mother and the staff at the Home.

I have a very acute sense of hearing. I recognise my room mates by the noises they make. For example, Teck Meng  is not a morning person and she tends to make a big fuss about getting up and going to the toilet!... It’s not that she does not wish to get up but she just has problems understanding why she is being carried out of bed. You see her limbs and her brain do not function as they should for a 7 year old. Then there is Kathy who is a jolly person. She screeches and laughs most times and she loves the water. I look forward to her cooing. It sounds like she’s wishing me a good morning.  Kathy tends to grab me and pull at my clothes often and that annoys me but I have learnt to smile it off. The bed to my right is occupied by Aminah. She has a low voice and makes distinct groans. I can tell she is a tall girl because her voice comes from above me.  Jane  sleeps to my left. She is always quiet. Since I am one of the older children, I lay quietly and wait my turn. I will get attended to soon enough.    

But…. Before I go on about my life, let me introduce myself to you. My name is Siti. I am the one who has the nice deep dimples when I smile… and I smile often.  I hear people saying that I look younger than my age. So here’s the thing. I look five but I am actually fourteen. How is that possible you ask? I assume it has to do with my growth hormone or something. I once heard a doctor utter a string of syndromes that he thought I have. My grandfather left me at this Home when he was not able to care for me anymore. I have not seen or heard from my mum in more than 10 years. Sadly, grandfather passed away three years ago. He used to visit me without fail. Every time he came to visit, I could tell that he was getting frailer by the day.  I miss him but I forget him too. So in some ways, my mind has made it easier for me to cope with memories of times gone by.

I do not know what people mean when they say, “see”. I can hear and I can feel but I cannot see. If the eyes are meant for seeing, then my eyes were made for the amazing pictures I conjure up in my mind. I do not know colours and I do not know what you mean when you say bright sunlight. I do know what it feels for the wind to blow through my hair when I sit on the swing and I enjoy the heat of the sun. I have my own ideas about the seeing world around me.

At the Home, I am kept busy. I am tasked with different things to do every day. I am taught to sing songs though my words don’t sounds the same as yours would. My house mother and care takers seem to understand me most times. I try and make an effort to get my message across though. All I know is that I have to be patient. I am not forgotten as there is always someone nearby attending to my needs. I really enjoy my sense of taste and I love my food. I get to eat simple and tasty food cooked with love at the Home. I am surrounded by love and care. I am happy.   

 

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Organization Information

St. Nicholas' Home, Penang

Location: Georgetown, Penang - Malaysia
Website: http:/​/​snh.org.my
Project Leader:
Daniel Aik Bin Soon
Mr
Bagan Jermal, Penang Malaysia

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