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Archive for August 6th, 2008

Disha

After visiting India the first time, I noticed that I saw very little children, let alone anyone, with disabilities.  At home in California, I work with a Jewish organization called “The Friendship Circle” that works with children with special needs. It is not a school, but almost like a “play group” where normally-abled teens from around the Bay Area get together and create a new community with the children and teens with disabilities. Through my work with the Friendship Circle, I feel a huge connection to children with disabilities. So, after working with the poor children in India, I only could wonder “Where are the disabled?” 

Yet I could find none. But now I have, in a school named Disha. 

 

Today I was fortunate enough to be able to visit Disha, a school that teaches academics and basic life skills to children and young adults with disabilities.  At first, it seemed like a flash-forward to where I hope Pratham Shiksha will be in a few years: a beautiful building, the students hand made gifts displayed in the waiting area, and a gorgeous grass area in front. But, upon looking inside the classrooms, I found the difference. The students wore uniforms, yet they were messily put together. Wheelchairs were littered in front of the classroom doors, and inside, the students sat in specially made wooden desks that were similar to high chairs: The student would sit, and then the desk would be strapped in front. The desks were complete with special padded holes to put a student’s feet in. 

It was lunch time and many of the students had food set in front of them on their desks. The food was scattered around the desk, and covered the area around their mouths. Yet, these students looked to be 13 or 14. To me, this was not shocking, because I have worked with disabled children before. But I’m sure, to any person who is unaccustomed, this would be a huge surprise. 

Every classroom looked more or less the same. Same desks, same black board, but with different pictures on the walls. The students were different too. Most were excited to see me and stuck out their hands, similar to Pratham Shiksha children, yet few smiled. Their eyes were glossy and they appeared to be thinking very hard about something.

I eventually made my way to the top floor and visited the cooking and handicraft classrooms. There were the older students, most of whom were adults older than me. They were excited to meet me, one even kissed my hand. Another asked to take a picture with me and for me to sit on the floor. When I did and Om Prakash was about to take the picture, she tilted her head down and started crying, because she was very self conscious in front of the camera. But, when we stopped taking pictures, she tilted her head back up, smiled, and shook my hand again. They also showed me how to make block print paper and how to glue on sequins. 

 

On my way out, I realized that some people are not very intelligent. They think, “Oh, I should help these disabled children, because it is not fair. It is not fair that they are born that way. They cannot help it!” Yet, they do not think to help the poor children, even though they are in a similar situation. They can’t help being poor, and they were also born into it. Granted, there is a difference, but people do not even think about the beggars, the homeless. They only see them and think, “wow that’s disgusting.”

What I don’t understand is how one person can help one type and ignore the other.

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Molly with Molly

My name has a meaning at least one place in the world! 

On Monday, I discovered that my name is a holy word. When Hindus worship, they have a red and yellow piece of string tied to their wrists, called “molly” (forgive if I spelled it wrong, but it is pronounced the same as my name). They also have a paint put on their foreheads in the spot that a woman’s bindi would go, called “Rolly” (once again, forgive my spelling). And this is why no one has trouble pronouncing my name! In fact, I met another woman today named Molly. 

Sumeeti told me that if I was born in India, along with Erica (my twin sister, for those of you who do not know), our names would be Molly and Rolly. Haha!

At the School Teej festival, I had a molly tied to my wrist. I now have my very own molly!

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