I remember the day when we sat down thinking how we will manage to feed the kids without a job in hand, where will they stay? How do we send them to school? How can we make it children friendly and many more such questions?
Keerthana was very clear with one thing. She said that these kids will be taken care like how I as a mother would like to take care of my child. So the thought of naming the place after Riya stood valid.
Now that we decided on a name we started looking out for a place where we made these kids comfortable. We zeroed down on a bungalow on the outskirts of the city that not only would make the kids feel at home but also bliss them with its serenity. As Keeth was training the trainee teachers in one of the reputed institutions in Mangalore, it was not difficult for her to find a person with passion for this job. This looked like a home run with everything falling into place.
The actual challenge hit us when we had to support the entire system. As the place was a rented accommodation, it became a commitment to ensure the rent was paid month on month. Ensuring the kids got the best, we appointed a cook to prepare healthy and hygienic cuisine that best suited the children and the staff’s diet.
To avoid monotony we planned to take the children with the staff out to the market place or a movie or even a mall, thus ensuring that they were still part of the daily living system. They get to do what they want too. We are looking at expanding their horizons in terms of their imagination and how they can fit in their dreams.
We currently have 6 children with in-house staff residing with them ensuring they are giving all the support to perform their daily living skills. We follow simple schedules like waking up for an excise in the morning, to getting ready to attend an integrated school, to coming back home for some yummy evening snacks, to a stroll around the park and there on sitting with our teachers following up on their academics. They are also allotted time for television and some games. Currently we are looking at restricting our intake up to 15 inmates as we believe in quality and not quantity.
These children come from financial backward families and have not been given a chance to explore the world. Usually parents shy away from taking these children to social get-togethers as it can be a cause of embarrassment. That’s the mind set we want to change. We want these kids to come out in the open, live life like you and me, Give them an opportunity to make mistakes and have them corrected and bottom line “enjoy life”
Have you ever dreamt of visiting abroad, or going to a particular restaurant? What happens when you attain it? It gives you a kind of confidence to excel; it even gives u a kind of self satisfaction and a belief that you can better it. That’s the same feeling we want to instill in our children.
My teacher once told me as a kid, that all things that involve honesty and hard work usually come with a lot of challenges and difficulties. It’s the tough that survives the storm.
I have to confess that it’s been a journey with a lot of bottlenecks and roadblocks and would not stop at that, we have had our moments of joy too. The satisfaction one would get when a parent tells that the family was proud of the child’s performance at a recent family function, its joy countless. It’s an indication that we on the right path.
It is not the funds that comfort us but a passerby just reacting normal when he sees the special child or the staff offering popcorn or even for that matter people not reacting when a glass is broken at the restaurant. These are small gestures but they have all played a role in encouraging the child to do better.
I just can’t thank Keeth enough for giving me an opportunity to be part of this dream and interacting in such great learning.
We are now planning a coffee shop run by the disabled to help them not only stand on their own feet but to also get the parent to showcase their kids talent by putting up their kids paintings or performing a live music show or to anything wacky. The whole idea is to give a parent a platform telling them that here is a place when your kids can get involved and can make dreams come true. Am not sure what it would take to make this dream come alive but the effort is on and we hope your prayers too…God bless