Equip deafblind children with skills for life!

by St. Nicholas' Home, Penang
Vetted

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.   

Raagavan
Raagavan

"We thank you so much for your contributions in helping these children live better lives. Because of your donations and help we are able to equip these children with a brighter future where they can be more independent and live a full life despite their disabilities. I want to introduce you to another child that your donations are helping.

Raag came to St. Nicholas Home in January of 2014. He came to us at the age of 6. Raag was born premature. When he first joined us he was very dependent on his family for help. The transition to St. Nicolas Home was difficult for him. Raag was born with Congenital Rubella Syndrome, which has greatly affected his life. This has caused him to be completely blind in one eye and have low vision in the other. Raag also uses hearing aids to help him with his sensorineural deafness (damage to the inner ear). Raag also has difficult sleeping. We are actively working with him on all these things to develop better life skills, sleeping patters and independence.

Since being in our care Raag has made progress. He can communicate much more with body gestures. He uses symbols to ask for what he needs. He can now have more solid foods but is still unable to feed himself. When he first came to us his mother was only feeding him milk. But he is getting more independent as time goes on. He has been able to find things on his own from memory and needs less and less assistance throughout the day. We are currently working on keeping him awake in the day so that at night he can sleep all the way through. We have high hopes and visions for Raag’s future, and with donations like yours this is all possible. We hope to continue working with communication, motor skills and sensory skills with him in the future.

Thank you for joining us in this work. We cannot do it without you. Please continue to support and help us change these children’s lives."

You can already do this by making a donation on the upcoming Bonus Day on Wednesday, May 13th. On that day GlobalGiving is matching every donation!

Links:

A new year has started and we at St. Nicholas’ Home are again full of hope and plans to improve and expand our Deaf Blind and Multi-Handicapped Programme. Currently we have 10 children enrolled in our programme and thanks to Your generosity we were able to help a total of 44 children since the start of our programme.

Maybe you can remember the stories about Siti, Chee Chong orDaniel. It is so nice to see them growing and developing every day. When Siti first arrived, she couldn’t walk and this morning, she was running around the track with one of the teachers, happily smiling and laughing. Chee Chong and Daniel were throwing a ball to each other with some guidance. For a sighted person, these things are not very difficult but for these children, this is a big step in their development and this is just the beginning! We hope that in a few years these children will be graduating from our programme and be able to live as independent as possible. All the things these children have achieved so far and will achieve wouldn’t be possible without You! Thanks to Your generosity the course of their lives have changed and they are facing a brighter future.

I hope You feel the profound magnitude of the gift You give to these children every time you make a donation

Thank You,

Daniel Soon

Executive Director St. Nicholas' Home

Links:

Outing.  Classroom.  Waterfall.

These are some of Ooi’s favorite words, at least on this particular day.  “Teacher Kaila, waterfall!” he said over and over as he sat in the shallow end of the pool at a local park.  Ooi couldn’t see the fountain that was spraying water into the pool, but to him it sounded like a waterfall.

Here are some of the great things about Ooi:

  • He smiles all the time.
  • He remembers volunteers by name and knows their voices.
  • When we sing “You are my Sunshine” in class, Ooi always joins in.
  • Sometimes when I talk, he giggles like I’ve just said the funniest thing ever.
  • He is determined.  Learning new things can be a slow process for him, but he works diligently.
  • When we’re on an outing he talks about his classroom.  When we’re in the classroom, he talks about outings.
  • My name can be hard to pronounce, but from the beginning Ooi has always gotten it right.

This young man is a lot of fun. He always puts a smile on my face.  On a recent outing with the children from the Deaf-Blind Multi-Handicapped program, we all went to the park and spent a couple of hours playing in the pool.  I spent a lot of time sitting with Khaw Sheng while he enthusiastically splashed me and talked about waterfalls. 

Totally blind and diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, 16-year-old Ooi is wheelchair-bound.  He can’t swim around the pool on his own, but that doesn’t stop him from enthusiastically enjoying life.  He loves field trips, and is always inviting volunteers and visitors to take him on an outing.

Through the DBMH program, Ooi is steadily improving his motor and communication skills.  He practices grasping small objects to strengthen his grip, and he is learning to be more conversant. Although Ooi is still growing in cognitive skills, he is friendly and interacts well with visitors.  He likes to talk and sing, and has a cheery demeanor. 

Thanks to the DBMH program, Ooi has been able to grow, learn, and flourish. He is determined to succeed, and his big smile and infectious laugh bring joy to those who work with him. A big thanks to all the generous donors and supporters who have made it possible for us to continue providing these services to the children! 

Thurga first joined this residential programme in March 2012 at the age of 12. At present she is 14 years old and continuing with the Deaf Blind and Multi Handicapped programme. Thurga was diagnosed with congenital blindness, mental retardation and Autism. Though Thurga can hear and understand simple commands, she is not able to talk and communicates only through gestures. Thurga’s main challenges are her aggressiveness and her tendency to throw tantrums. She has mood swings whenever she is uncomfortable.  Thurga did not had any proper training in any skills all this while as she was left alone by herself and thus has developed improper behaviour.

 It has been two years now since Thurga enrolled in the Deaf Blind and Multi Handicapped programme. In these 2 years, Thurga has been referred for regular medical intervention at a nearby hospital. She continues her follow up schedule with the Psychiatrist, Paediatrics, Neuro and Endocrine specialist and she has shown some overall improvement in her behaviour modification. Her frequent tantrums and aggressiveness has lessened and it has also improved her sleeping pattern at night.

Thurga is able to recognise people with their voices and touch. She is able to under simple commands in English and Tamil and able to respond to our commands though slow at times. Thuga likes to be praised and handled with gentle care and does not like loud voices or sounds. She also likes to be cuddled and hugged by familiar people.

Even though Thurga is able to understand the commands from her teachers, she can only communicate through gestures to indicate whenever she is hungry or feeling uncomfortable. She has different sounds and gestures to indicate her happiness or when she is in pain. She has now learnt to indicate through gestures for her toileting, hunger and pain.

Thurga has also shown some improvement in her walking pattern after continuous walking exercise and Physiotherapy sessions. Her ability to walk to her classrooms on her own is an indication of her improvement from when she first came to St Nicholas’ Home. Though she still has balancing problem, she is able to control herself. As such, she tends to walk with her head down and our Physiotherapist is currently working to teach her neck control.

Thurga is still dependent on her caregivers for her daily needs.  She needs constant verbal instructions to do a task and most of the time she needs hand over hand techniques. She has learned to wear her shoes, cloths and feed herself with very minimum assistance from teachers and caregivers. Other skills such as Toileting, bathing and brushing teeth still need training.

For the past two years, with constant attention and teaching from her teachers, Thurga has shown to us that with proper guidance, it is possible for children such as Thurga to achieve their full potential and gain the ability to be as independent as they can be.

As we continue to help children such as Thurga through the Deaf Blind and Multi Handicapped progamme at St Nicholas’ Home, we would like thank you for your generous contribution to our DBMH programme and for making a change in the lives of these children!

 

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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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