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Saturday, November 13, 2010

MHF’s Special Gift to the Children with Special Needs

Hidden behind at the back of two big buildings of Kyaik Waing child care center (orphanage) is a special place for the children with special needs.  Even though it is located in Yangon, many people hardly notice about the place.  Fortunately, a couple of MHF team members have frequently visited the center since 2001.

The official name of the center is “Kyaik Waing Disabled Children Care Center” and it is located at the Kyaik Waing, near the 8th Mile Junction in Yangon.  The main purpose is to provide support for the children with special needs.  The main services offered at the center are: day care, health care, education, and physical therapy for the children.

There are about 24 children (10 boys and 14 girls) with special needs.  That includes a few months old baby to twenty plus old young adults.  The Center is run by the Government and supported by non-government organizations and individual donors.  It has 11 full-time staff lead by a principal.

Our MHF team member, who has visited the Center several times, shared his experience, “I looked around the room and everything was very minimal: a desk, a few chairs, and some baskets made by children; no computer, no air-condition.  While I was chit-chatting with the principal, some boys were sitting on the floor in the corridor.”

Dinning Room and For Boys
According to the principal, “Most of them are suffering from mental illness and consequently physically disabled.  Some of them were born normal, but suffered from occasional high fevers during early ages.  Consequently, they contracted polio and damaged their brains.  Some of them had trauma while they were babies and could not recovered from the shocks.  Some of the children had serious illness after birth.  The sad thing was that all of them were abandoned by their parents due to various reasons.  Nobody wants to adopt them either because of their conditions.”  In other words, these children were not accepted by the society.

Because the children are mentally challenged, they cannot attend a normal school.  Fortunately, the Center provides basic education for these children.  In terms of support, these children, particularly at the age up to 2, need medical attention.  Good health care services and facilities are definitely needed for the children with special needs at their earlier age.

“Compassion is important throughout the years,” says the principal.  She pointed toward across the road where another (normal) orphanage is located and said, “The goal of these street kids at the orphanage is just want to get out of there because there is no enough care-givers to give them individual attention to everyone.”  “Social needs (friendly social environment) at early childhood up to 5 are also very important,” she added.

For Girls
 For most other children with special needs (not mentally challenged), like herself when she was young, their “goal is to get educated.”  But, many of them had to “grow up in bad environment.  So, there is no motivation to try further and to find opportunity.”  She herself took a different path and went to workers’ college.  Up until 2005, there was no such thing as “inclusive education.”  She said that most schools “do not want to accept children with special needs” because they do not want extra burdens.

When asked about some other difficulties faced by the children with special needs, she said “Poor economic conditions, knowledge, and awareness.”  In terms of needs, “mobility” is important for them, but of course “different people have different needs.”

Water Tower
Government-funded facilities, like this, for the children with special needs are limited.  There are 7 blind schools and 2 deaf schools nation-wide, according to her.   For a nation of 56 million people, there is just one school for disabled children like this Center, one vocational training centre for adults, and one rehabilitation centre – all in the commercial capital, Yangon.

When a MHF team member visited the Center again in June 2010, he asked the new principal about any immediate support that the Center is needed.  The principal shared the recent development at the Center.  Basically, the Center is expanding and will accept about 70 additional children with special needs.  In other words, the Center will soon to accommodate about 100 children with special needs, meaning more infrastructures need to be developed.  In fact, there was a new construction going on in the compound.  Among various needs, MHF had decided to donate funds for the construction of a 600 gallon (12 feet 9 inches high, concrete-reinforced) water tank/tower.  The estimated total cost was 1,384,000 kyats. 

At the time of donation to the Center in September 2010, a MHF team member donated total amount of 1,387,000 kyats to the principal for the children with special needs and said goodbye to the children.  The principal expressed her sincere gratitude to the MHF and its donors and gave a certificate for the donation.

That was truly a special gift from the MHF to the children with special needs.  Thank you all for your continued support and generosity.  You are the true heroes for the children with special needs.

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