Rise and shine it’s program time! Today it’s a visit to Puthiur, School for children with a disability. Puthiur means “new life” and I reckon that is what this place offer to the children there. We visited all the classes beginning with early intervention, this class is for 0 – 5 years and parents are encouraged to participate in classes to develop skills in caring for their child and also working with their child. We moved through all classes and met children of all ages and abilities, the teachers obviously dedicated, with one teacher being at the school for some 16 years. The children are taught, basic hygiene skills, basic skills to promote independence along with reading, writing and math as they are able.
Again the children are happy and loved engaging with us visitors, and of course we loved engaging with the children. We sang with them, listened to them read and count. Nothing is more beautiful than just being present with, I think we forget sometimes the power of just being with someone, spending time with someone, and offering a hand that cares – a simple act of holding someone’s hand can be a very powerful thing, particularly when it is with a person who is living in a world that sees them as unworthy – people with a disability in India do not have great prospects for their future, the risks of being exploited and abused are greatly increased by the fact that they have a disability, chances of an independent future are not great!
Before lunch some of the children danced for us and then they asked if we would like to dance with them, of course some of us obliged and what a great freeing experience it was. It was an Indian dance and none of us really knew what we were doing, we were led by the children. There is nothing more freeing than to let go of any worries of feeling stupid because you don’t know what you are doing or how to do the dance and just simply following their lead and enjoying every minute and realizing that even the most vulnerable person who has a disability has something they can teach us – if we are open enough to accept the challenge and learn from them!
In the early evening we had the opportunity to go to the church as guests at a wedding and watch a young couple begin their lives together as man and wife. The ceremony was very similar to an Australian wedding except instead of exchanging rings the woman was presented with a thali and wore an amazing sari. The church was filled with color as the female guests rolled up one by one in an array of colorful saris. I was asked to bless the couple which was a real honor and the rest of the group were all invited to be in the wedding photos – it was a challenge because we felt we were intruding but the flip side was what a privilege to be invited.
The emotional roller coaster continues as do the adventures of our time in incredible India.