“Try not to associate bodily defect with mental, my good friend, except for a solid reason”
― Charles Dickens, David Copperfield
Some inspiring words indeed and it’s good to be reminded of them every so often, as was the case for us 13th September 2014, when we visited the Sandagala Special School in Kurunegala. As we entered the school, the gates were opened by a few beaming kids who at first glance appeared to be normal. Later, we discovered that most of these kids were hearing impaired.
The school houses 110 kids, mostly hearing impaired, but a few sight impaired and others differently abled. The school premises are very clean, including the classrooms that have been creatively decorated with their handwork and the kids’ dorms, which were impressively tidy.
“It is kept clean by the students themselves,” the Principal said. He also noted that each of the kids, immaterial of their age, were all independent, to the extent of washing their own clothes. All the students, though curious about us, were disciplined and very well behaved. The Principal introduced a few of the older kids using sign language and some of them helped us to learn a little bit of sign language ourselves.
We noticed inspirational verses written on wood and hung on the walls everywhere. Additionally, there were many amazing paintings, carvings and other creations displayed together with the medals and trophies won by these immensely talented students. The school houses a few children with Down syndrome as well, and one little girl especially stole our hearts! She was rather shy, but when we asked her name, she very proudly announced “Mama Chooti” (I am small).
Most of these kids stay in the school itself. Some have parents/relatives who visit them but some have simply been abandoned because of their disability. The Government contributes Rs. 50 per child for all meals for a day but this is not sufficient, so food for the kids is provided by people in the village, who have taken on the task of providing meals on certain days, on certain occasions or in memory of a loved one.
We at 99X Technology have decided to help the kids and the school in any way we can. It will not be through just monetary donations – what would be more valuable is donating our time to make them happy. They are a delightful lot and are holding us to the promise that we will return to play a game of cricket and some badminton with them!
Something we realized is that no matter what life throws at you, there is always someone else out there fighting a tougher battle with a smile on their face J
Written by Needra Silva and Yusra Marikkar