Our inability to see society as interdependent, to see it as just a part and not as a whole, has given rise to exclusion. The words ‘disabled’ vs ‘normal’ are just the vocabulary we use to further this division. At a theoretical level we appreciate the diversities that create the vibrancy of life yet at a practical and gut level we seem to reject anything that makes us distinct from each other. In the process our innate sense of connect, our humanity is what suffers. But as a society we all are inclusive. What needs to be done is to look at a medium that enables us to access the compassion that rests in all. If we are able to re-look at ourselves and are inspired to live differently and compassionately, we have then together created a world where everyone belongs. In an attempt to introduce the idea of the diversity of human needs and its impact on individuals who may or may not be directly linked to a special needs individual, we connected with Intel through our Creative Connections initiative.
Inclusion must be woven into the fabric of any effort so that it deflects the possibility of exclusion itself. If every centre working with children with special needs can co-locate with a mainstream school in their locality, this is possible. It will benefit not just children but society at large. We started this with a group of our children being at Kid’s corner, JP Nagar once a week for a few hours. They are buddied by the 8-11 year olds at the school. The children interact with each other and find a niche to offer and receive, communicate and learn.
As we approached the days leading to Snehadhara’s 4th Birthday we thought there could be no better moment to weave three diverse spaces to achieve the social cohesion we aspire to. We started our birthday celebrations with children from Kids’ Corner School, volunteers from Intel, and two batches of children from Snehadhara. The group of 60 were divided into 12 small groups and each group worked together to come up with a presentation. Some groups danced, some told stories, and some acted while all the others applauded. The unconditional acceptance shown by the children left every adult present overwhelmed.
Thank you to the team from Intel, the children from both learning centres had new friends, ‘the grown ups’ as the children call them.
One of our friends , Deekshith from Intel shared his experience:
As the gate of the home opened, we were greeted with smiling faces of children, they all eagerly looked to see who had come into their abode. We as an Intel team volunteered in the program “International Day of Person with Disabilities”. As a part of this program, we went to Guinina farms, Begihalli where children with disabilities (from Snehadhara Foundation) were bought for art based learning activities.
As we proceeded to the reception to drop the items we went with and to get any information or rules we need to know and adhere to while we are there, group of adorable children (from Snehadhara and Kids corner) formed a round and Snehadhara people were involved in playing, singing and making children to learn, to be happy and getting them involved. We as a team joined that event and had fun playing, singing songs, and rhymes to teach the children art based learning. We also had fun in doing that. We just remembered our childhood days of playing, quarrelling, singing, dancing, learning, and so on. I personally felt so happy seeing those children getting involved in the singing and rhyming activities forgetting all their miseries. Children from Kids corner also participated in the event. After singing and rhyming activities, each of us were grouped with two children (one from Kids corner, other child with disability) along with one volunteer from Snehadhara foundation. Each team were given a task to perform an activity.
I got a team with Charan from Kids corner, Sagar from Shehadhara, Bunty (Snehadhara volunteer taking care of Sagar).
Sagar was so cute but his disability was unable to talk and understand the environment around. He was very much eager to go out and roam around in the garden every time. He was so cute that even though he cannot talk, was dragging me to go into the garden and roam. But the weather was so hot that we cannot roam outside for much time. He was so cute that when we say to sit down, he used to do that. I was so moved when he came and sat on my lap when I asked to sit down.
Charan from Kids corner was so silent that when I asked to perform an act based on the themes we got to play (our team got Market place theme), he was just repeating the words I say but no other words. When we had to do it on the stage, he stopped saying his dialogue and was frightened to talk in-front of everyone. At that moment, I remembered my childhood days that being silent and fearful to talk to anyone. Later we completed the theme by having small conversation with each other.
Bunty, the volunteer of Snehadhara was so patient in fact everyone who takes care of those children were so patient that every minute they use to teach the children how to do the daily activities, how to respond to a person, how to eat, drink, behave and so on.
Sneha, an exceptional girl. Cute and very smart. She knows 5 languages. She was so smart and every instruction we give, she followed it exactly and gives a very smart reply.
Later we had lunch with the children. Some of them only had juices and many were fond of muffins that we took for them. Sagar was not eating food but he had muffins.Post lunch, we had an interactive session with Gitanjali, Founder of Snehadhara. It was sad to know that they had to go through so many years to maintain the disabled children in a community. She was very happy when we as a team went to spend time with them. She said that many people will give donation but being with the children, spending time with them gives much more happiness, courage and hope. With those words, I was speechless and glad to be a part of this program.
When we were about to leave, we said bye to everyone. At the end Sagar saw me, caught my hand and was ready to come with me. That moment what I felt was speechless and couldn’t move from there leaving those children. I took him catching his hand till we boarded the bus. I was so emotional at that moment to leave that place and children.
I am thankful to Intel for organizing such volunteering event because so far, I haven’t been to such place or nor volunteered. Being a team, going there was a wonderful experience and had full of emotional great memories to have in my life.Thanks to Snehadhara, Kids Corner childrens and the Intel Involved Coordinator for organizing such a great volunteering event.
These kids were full of smiles, nothing to worry about the rest of the world. Eager to play and even to pray (As when we wanted to share food for them, we gathered around each other and almost everyone wanted to Bless the food and to Ask God to Protect and Guide us).
As we left the Home, a thousand thoughts played and fought for preeminence in my head, a thousand words wanted to burst out of my mouth in expression of my feelings, but yet, nothing came out. Yes! I was overwhelmed. This was my first visit ever to a disability home and it has left a lasting imprint in my heart.
As I lay down I write this, I’m Grateful for what I have. I’m thankful for my family, for my parents, For Me – just being me, as I am. So many times, I complain about my parents, about my background, but looking at those kids today, I’m Grateful.
I urge you, yes you reading this to Please, HELP SOMEONE TODAY.
Your little effort could mean the world to someone.The world would be a better place if we all agree to help our neighbors that we are better than. Our purpose as humans on earth is actually to serve God and help other people, to do good deeds. Love your neighbor. You can’t love without helping, without giving.
“DO ALL THE GOOD YOU CAN, BY ALL THE MEANS YOU CAN, IN ALL PLACES YOU CAN,AT ALL TIMES YOU CAN, TO ALL PEOPLE YOU CAN,AS LONG AS EVER YOU CAN.”
We are all dealt hands in life but it’s how we choose to handle that hand that counts, therefore in our world, art is an essential vehicle or catalyst for enabling the shifting of perception. With this experience of the Arts, let us look, absorb, engage, dance-with, ideate, create stories of perception, and entertain the possibility of seeing things in a different way. Problem solving essentially needs creative minds as it takes us out of ourselves, gives us ability to see the whole. Everyone in society has a role to play in creating an empathetic world. It has to be a multi-stakeholder model. See how we can do our bit by starting with ourselves. In a socially cohesive society all individuals and groups have a sense of belonging, participation, inclusion, recognition and legitimacy. Keeping the dialogue with this effort on, we intend to thread this journey with all children using the arts as a catalyst for growth that emerges from a collective past and towards a shared future.