WORKING WITH MENTALLY HANDICAPPED.
A Mentally handicapped person is the most difficult person to handle with compared with other less fortunate. And again he is one of the most ignored and un-wanted person in the modern society. Nobody entertains the presence of a mentally retarded person.
The normal society calls him a ‘mad person” “Out of Brain” or “ Mental” at events. Surely, it is not the right title for such a person. But most of the people from the normal community have hardly anything better else to say. They just remember the “Mental Hospital” for such cases. Many of them are not aware of the Special Schools for such ignored persons. The schools are not ordinary schools but built for a special purpose to fit the special persons at high cost handled by the special trained teachers and the Head Mistress.
A mentally handicapped child need not be a ‘mad’ one at most cases. Although he behaves to such on extent, at most events he is curable under special care and training under special education. The cases of such children are quite different from those of mental Hospital.
My several years’ involvement with several types of mentally handicapped children has shown me that it needs much more patience, tolerance and sympathising heart, dealing with a mentally handicapped child, rather than a deaf and dumb, physically disabled, a blind or an orphan or a neglected child. A mentally handicapped child is not always an ‘out of wits’ child. He is more relevant to normal than a mad one under special training.
A deep study of the special schools and units which serve to normalize or rather up-grade the status of such handicapped children has shown that it needs more attention and sincerity towards them than other handicapped children.
The Government with the assistance from the generous NGOS and the well to do Society has gone into the field with very promising and surprising results.
My long term experience as the National Chairman of Mentally Handicapped Children in Kenya I have seen out of 100 of such children admitted in the Special School under my care, nearly ten children were admitted in the normal schools only after the training of three to five years. Five children were admitted even after five to eight years. And there have been cases of a couple of such children admitted in the normal school after the training of two years although they did not turn out to be very efficient in studies. But out of those ten admitted in the normal schools mostly all of them turned out to be satisfactory in studies and the daily behaviour in the class. There were hardly any complains of their behaviour as such.
The teachers for the special schools have to be more matured with lot of patience, kind-heart and beautiful nature towards their mode of human relation. It may affect their social lives or their public image could not be so sweet, but they play better role on the social stage-towards their behaviours to mentally retarded persons. After all they are “special teachers”. They are trained accordingly and they have sincerely vowed to serve the less fortunate by all good means even under the tense circumstances.
I really salute all those teachers who have never thought of their personal lives and never tamed selfishness and have served the less fortunate without any setback with the total love from the bottom of their hearts. We should encourage such teachers in abundant by congratulating them as and when required by praising for their very good efforts.
Believe me when I say that it is not an easy job to serve as the special teacher. I have seen and known several special teachers who have really sacrificed their career to serve the special schools.
A teacher with the special school may not seem be always a good citizen or a good neighbour. A very sincere teacher may not have a sweet image in public but he or she knows the work to the necessity of the profession. He or she knows her duty and the very difficult assignment given. Whatever their image might be in the public, the special teachers at most events play their part well in their profession.
It is not always interesting to work as a special teacher. It really needs true devotion. Socially it is not an attractive profession. Nor it is interesting like the normal ones. The head-mistress or the Master of the special school could not be happy with the increasing number of handicapped children. Her or his mission is to reduce the cases of such children and to resettle them in normal schools and the society as well. Such a person restores a substantial amount of confidence and power of tolerance.
Headmaster of the special school could not be an ordinary teacher. It is a really difficult task to run the special school on commercial basis. As the Chairman of the Board of Governors in the Nakuru Hills Special, I have seen and observed the Headmistress struggling hard to run the school. She stayed in the school compound and attended the needy children in the middle of the night as and when required.
Such special schools mostly depend on donors, trusts and voluntary organizations. There are certain very well established NGOS who sponsor the projects in such Special Schools. I have worked with a number of such NGOs who are very generous towards the Special Schools. Their volunteers sent to look after their funded projects and to help the local social workers are very sincere in their duties and I have seen those highly paid and highly educated volunteers cleaning and washing the dirty children at times and carrying out the donkey work very sincerely.
The committee-member who serves as the voluntary member on the board of members of the special school is either a parent of such a child or has some natural instinct towards such children from the bottom of the heart. Or once he was part and parcel of the group. My particular committee had three parents of the mentally retarded children, two who had once been themselves handicapped and one special teacher of the school. There were six representatives from the various Government departments. The Headmistress of the school gave her services as the Secretary of the Board. It was a pleasure to work with them as their practical experiences enhanced the committee work.
It is in no case interesting to serve in the committee for a person who has not dealt with such children. It needs a back-ground with a gross of tolerance and sacrifiece of time and efforts … It is not prestigious or to be proud achievement to be the member of such organization. But it is a great work for the humanity in general. It is the right service given to the less fortunate children of Almighty Lord. Thus it is a perfect service offered to Lord.
I had had the bitter experiences serving as the National Chairman of the less fortunate although I was very much respected by the Government and the persons concerned or attached with such Children. I was said to be the Chairman of MADS or People with NO BRAIN. There were people who laughed at me while I was with such handicaps-playing with them and talking with them at events. They were not very happy to see me on TV talking about such people or seeing training them.
But that never became the hindrance to my mission to serve the Children of GOD with cash and kind and of course with whole heart.
I was happy to see my entire family supporting me fully in my mission. I have seen my children celebrating their birthday parties with such children with love and happiness. I have seen them collecting funds for such children on weekends and holidays. I have seen them saving their pocket money for their brethrens of the Special School. I was very happy to see that.
A mentally handicapped child could be a non-sense or the serious concern to the relevant teacher, headmaster or a committee-member. The parents in such cases have no choice as theirs is the committed responsibility.
But such parents should be very careful to deal with their children. Being hard, aggressive or even very soft or loving will not serve the purpose. They should train themselves to deal rightly with their children by reading the special literature or by visiting the centers dealing with such children.
The affected child needs a special training and that is really possible through a well established special school. There was a time when well to do and themselves normal parents hesitated or showed reluctancy to expose their affected children in public places. They even felt ashamed to drive and visit them in the special schools. They regretted being the parents of such children. They hide their children when the visitors come at home. They believe and think that being the parents of such destitute children, their status or the image in the society might not turn out to be good.
But all this is not good and fair. There is nothing to hide about an affected child from the normal society. The affected child should never be ignored or over-looked. Such parents should take more and keen interest in special schools and the organizations which serve such cases. They should read more and more about such children and try to be helpful to them as much as possible at home and should take them in public places as and when required. They should never hesitate to introduce such handicaps to their visitors.
It becomes the utmost duty of such parents to endevour all possible means to provide possible training for their children. At several events, if the right efforts are injected, from the very beginning, a child will be nearly normal in the advent of time. At least, he will be able to live a workable and tolerable life.
Not all handicapped cases are the same. Not all are that much serious that they need special training for long. Some cases if taken proper care even by the parents themselves at home could be normalized. Special school training starts from behaviours, personal look-after, food-eating, cleanliness, how to use toilets, changing of clothes etc to recognizing of different things. Such children are trained to know themselves, their teachers and their school fellows. They come to know the visitors and the donors by name in the event of time.
From the picture study, the special education goes on alphabete. The children are also taught singing and dancing in groups. They even sing songs in the praise of visitors who have come to assist them. Some games are also being taught to them. They are found very interesting in drawing pictures of various items especially animals and people.
The present training goes upto the swimming for such children. They become good swimmers in short time without any fear but with the help of the rubber tubes.
The modern training through computers is marvelous and it has shown very promising results. Playing games on computer, trains and builds the minds of such children who show very good progress at home. The wooden and metal workshops are now a days found in the special schools which train them to be the artists in the profession.
The Special Olympics or what we know as Paralympics Olympics have been now recognized on the international field leading to World Special Olympics. It is really a pleasure to watch the Paralympics / Olympics and TRAINING CAMPS OF SUCH CHILDREN where we observe a good sportsman spirit and a discipline to our surprise among the not normal participants.
There are various types of Marathon races starting from 100 meters to 400 meters-to 1000 meters- high jump and long jump-ball throwing-disc throwing etc.
During the first few training courses we found it very difficult to train the children as it was very difficult for them to enter the competition in running a race. Giving the start with the real pistol was not workable in the beginning. So we used toy pistol. There were some teachers to give further instructions to the children taking part in 1000 meters as they found it too lengthy to run.
In the beginning some of the children even went back from the tract and some also sat on the ground not to go further any more. Things came to settle to their good understanding after a long period of practice and training. The hard efforts of the special sports teachers came to be highly appreciated by the public and the children were trained and escorted to the World Olympics where they were even successful to bring several medals.
The trained children taking part in such games show their responsibility by behaving as normals. They mostly endeavor to finish their parts in tracks. Hardly have we found any mis-behaviour on the field. The sports teachers deserve a pat on their back for a fantastic training. In a way, the Special Sports Teachers are really SPECIAL as they work very hard to train the affected children to a level where the spectators are surprised to see their outputs. At events, the children perform as normal children.
Kenya during my tenure as the Provincial Chairman of the SPECIAL OLYMPICS had brought several medals from various countries-few in Gold and several in Silver and Bronze.
It was not an easy traveling to overseas with the mentally retarded participations. In the first trip to Germany we found it very difficult to reach the place of our destination as it was a very difficult task for all of us to control the kids in the AERO PLANE when in the sky and while taking of the ground and also while landing. It was also a tremendous job for all of us to feed them and to take their care while they were in toilets.
The Air Hostesses of the GERMAN Airlines were really helpful to us in that matter. Thanks to them that our children could go to toilets for short cuts and long cuts. Reaching Germany was not a problem as there were all sorts of special facilities for such children immediately the plane landed. We were very much relaxed through the tremendous services given to us by our counterpart in Germany.
But our children did well in Germany although we did not get any Gold Medal. We were awarded two silver and three Bronzes which to us was a great victory and the un-believable success first time out of the country. There were people who had come in mass from the far distances to see the black children –mentally handicapped competing on the field all way from Kenya.
It is very interesting to work with mentally handicaps for the persons who are really devoted towards them. Mentally handicapped are one of the less fortunate group who need special care and true affection from all of us in either way.
Majority of the children from the special schools turn out to be workable and understandable citizents. They also make good parents. The best teachers of the special schools come out from the special school training. Some of them also turn out to be efficient lecturers and even the polished writers.
The Special schools of today are well equipped with metal and wooden workshops, computers, videos and CDS for the children and some children are very ably trained to run their own workshops and computer classes in the long run.
London renders all sorts of special services for these less fortunate persons. They are very well taken care of in all respects and they are never found to be ignored people. Public in general is very co-operative, friendly and sympathetic with such children. They never deny or refuse to offer their helping hand towards such children in terms of items or funds as and when required. The Government is very much aware in this sector and all types of possible facilities are given to the Special Schools. The Voluntary Organizations take keen interest in such schools and they offer their helping hand towards them even without any appeal.
Kenya once my working field for the Mentally Retarded persons needs a lot of support from the Government and the NGOS and especially the citizens in general.
Their contribution towards the needy sector in cash and kind and their participation in the special programs of the children with full support would surely encourage the projects for the less fortunate children of the same God who has given us everything for a smooth survival.
It was a pleasure to work with mentally handicaps in Kenya for about 15 years. The co-operation from the Kenya Government was in abundance. The Kenyan public really supported the movement with cash and kind.
May Almighty God bless them all.
© H. V. Kerai