Nithya was 14 years old when she came to us in February 2017 through the Child Welfare Committee of Coimbatore. She had been surrendered to an orphanage after her birth, post her mother’s untimely death. Her father was unable to care for her as she was diagnosed with a mild form of intellectual disability.
Nithya had a bit of trouble adjusting to her new environment at Sri Arunodayam. She was already of age to understand what was happening to her. She craved attention and sought it in strange ways. Too old to study and too young to work, Nithya was ideally suited for Prayatna, our in-house vocational training center.
Prayatna offered Nithya many channels to develop her creativity. As she focussed her energies on tasks that she liked and began to excel at, her penchant for troublemaking reduced. Nithya has blossomed into a fine young lady; responsible, reliable and capable of taking care of herself and the other young ones in her care. She has applied herself and become proficient in knitting, stitching, and weaving lovely wire baskets.
In the three years that Sri Arunodayam became her home, Nithya developed a new attitude. She knows she is loved and that this is her family. She has responded by evolving into a housemother of sorts, helping our caregivers feed and care for younger children at the home. She has other talents too, fancying sports, games and dancing. It’s true that the more we love our children, the more they learn to love others. This, pretty much sums up Nithya’s story as she grows up learning to love herself and others, making her own mark in the world today.
This is Vaishnavi. She is a new entrant and just a little over 3 years old. Born to a 54 year old woman found to be suffering with mental health issues, Vaishnavi was rescued in early January this year through India’s ChildLine services. She had been kept under lock and key since birth. Vaishnavi was transferred to the Egmore Baby Hospital in Chennai, India for medical treatment where she was diagnosed with severe malnutrition, weighing a mere 4 kilos. After treatment, she was sent to our home via a Child Welfare Committee order on January 15, 2020.
When admitted, Vaishnavi was still a little weak and cried a lot. She couldn’t sit up. We put her on a nutritious diet which has significantly improved her health. It is said that “a healthy child is a happy child” and we found that to be absolutely true! Vaishnavi’s temperament changed for the better, she became mobile and she settled in quite happily in her new environment. As you can see, she insists on eating her food by herself and actually smiles a lot now. Vaishnavi has been placed under our Individualized Education Program (IEP) where she receives the undivided attention of a special educator.
This been an exceptionally difficult time for children with disabilities but by the grace of God and your continued support we are able to keep the children in good health and spirits. Thank you for supporting our cause.
“I cannot do all the good that the world needs. But the world needs all the good that I can do.” (Jana Stanfield)
So true, especially in these times! When we commenced this New Year, we never anticipated a crisis like the COVID-19. Yet, it is precisely in such trials that we can best demonstrate faith and goodwill.
COVID-19 has revealed a lot about us as people, the good and the shadow side. We now know that we are vulnerable and dependent and need each other’s support. We’ve learnt that isolation is difficult for most people, that we must constantly work at connecting better with others and developing a better sense of neighbourliness by pushing the boundaries on who we include as our neighbours. We also know that sharing can be hard but is right. Eventually, much will return to normal but it will be a “new normal” and it is up to us to ensure that it is a better normal – more just and compassionate, more ethical and responsible, more hopeful and caring!
We hope and pray, dear friend, that you and your loved ones are well. Please stay home and stay safe!
It has been an exceptionally difficult time for persons with disabilities but by the grace of God and your continued support we have been able to keep the children in good health. We had to temporarily close special education and vocational center activities but the other therapies continue. We continue to take every precaution to keep them safe – regular hand and facility sanitization, wearing our masks and practicing social distancing as best we can. We are amazed at the new understanding our children demonstrate. They sense the change and are cooperative and understanding, caring for one another. We are also very grateful for the courage and self-giving of our healthcare workers and staff who try to make life better for the children.
In the end, we each must do our part, however small. Our world needs all the good that we can do!
In September 2019, we launched our Tailoring unit after purchasing sewing and embroidery machines. Around 10 of our youngsters were trained to use these machines. The girls naturally appeared to show interest in embroidery and fine work, but both girls and boys appear to be very interested in stitching all kinds of colorful shopping and sling/shoulder bags. In around two months they had made around 650 bags, so bright and colorful, that they were quickly sold out! We sell these products at several locations across the city by taking up stalls at fairs and exhibitions.
This program aims to provide our youngsters with opportunities to develop skills that have high employability potential in the market today. With the implementation of a plastic ban across major cities, including ours, there is a huge demand for cloth and paper bags. Cloth bags are being purchased in large quantities by local grocers and vendors. We plan to tie up with a couple of establishments soon.
In the meanwhile, we are very happy that the children have thrown themselves wholeheartedly into the activity and appear to be making significant improvements in social skill, self-esteem and confidence levels. Tailoring is providing them quick and gainful employment in a sheltered environment, which is exactly what they need, given their particular circumstances.
At Sri Arunodayam, we strive to provide children with intellectual disabilities (ID) equal opportunities for development, and work to change community perceptions and attitudes towards them, through our programs.
Banu was just 3½ years old when she was abandoned with 1½ year old baby sister, Fatima, at a railway station in Villupuram, Tamil Nadu. The sisters were rescued by the Railway police. When traced, their parents refused to accept them, and so began their journey from home to home until they came to us via a CWC order in July 2017, when they were 13 and 11 respectively.
Banu’s IQ was documented as being below average (72). She was restless, moody, aggressive, and showed signs of extreme stress. Banu had a lot of behavioural issues. She was also emotionally unstable with a poor sense of identity.
Today, she is 15 years old, and the rehabilitation therapies that were customized for her are now beginning to show results. Receiving a nutritious diet (she has come of age recently), special education, and psychological/psychiatric care, Banu has shown immense all-round improvement. She appears healthy and vibrant (as you can see in her picture). She is beginning to find her own identity and sense of worth, which could probably be a key reason for her radical change into a fairly happy and motivated person. Placed in our vocational tailoring program, Banu has learnt to sew and embroider clothing. She can stitch blouses and shows signs of becoming a good seamstress. When she reaches 18, we plan to provide her local community-based employment under supervision, until she develops the confidence to function independently.
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