Imagine you’re a child who looks a little different from the other kids. Or sounds a little different. Or you make involuntary and unusual physical movements due to cerebral palsy. Maybe you have a congenital birth defect – you were born that way…
And what if your mum and dad feel helpless or ashamed? They don’t have the skills to cope with your disabilities. Or the money to get the treatment you need.
They may decide they don’t want you anymore or want to hide you away – at least until you’re “better”. Because you can’t yet do everyday tasks like feeding yourself or going to the toilet.
So they take you to a place like the REDCE Special School in Cuddalore, a school which is supported through your Partnerships, Advocacy, Research and Training Individuals (PARTI) Project, and leave you there. REDCE is a residential school, home to around twenty children with disabilities. Many parents have abandoned their children with disabilities here as they do not know how to cope and are ashamed of them.
Despite their sense of abandonment God works for the good… and with your support, these children are making amazing progress.
• Four children with speech impediments can now go to a mainstream school. They’ve gained enough confidence in interacting with others to integrate successfully.
• Many students can now write their own names. It seems a little thing but it’s a big step forward for children who once could not write at all!
• Occupational therapy has helped students build social skills and interact with others. Also, parents are invited and encouraged to participate more in the schools’ activities, and are now learning how to overcome the negative cultural view of disability and engage and accept their children for who they are. As a result, several children have returned home to their families!
• New ‘uniform’ T-shirts have encouraged a sense of belonging among the students. The school has never previously had uniforms and the children had few clothes of their own due to poverty. The t-shirts also allow the children to participate in team sports with other groups and schools, further fostering disability mainstreaming and social inclusion.
• Students experienced love and acceptance from other children their own age. A special picnic encouraged interaction between children with disabilities, their parents and students from other schools.
Agnes, the head of school, says, “Since the inclusive picnic, we’ve seen a positive behaviour change in our students… The best treatment for these children is to integrate them with other children.”
Please pray for:
• More funding for books and other teaching resources. Current funding covers teachers’ salaries only.
• Increased support for the children’s living expenses. The government wants the school to take more students but it needs extra funds to do so.
God loves these children and is working in their lives! If you have a heart for these students and would like to donate to the PARTI Project to help them, please visit leprosymission.org.au or call 1800 LEPROSY (1800 537 767)