Thursday, July 08, 2010

Mrs Catherine

A couple of days ago, as I alluded to, I revisited Mrs Catherine, the extraordinary woman who started not one but two schools for children with learning difficulties. Both schools were set up with private funds - she and her husband took out substantial loans and borrowed from the families and when the first school was taken away from her, she set up another one. Her whole life is immersed in the school. She was driven, as I mentioned before by the fact that her son caught meningitis and developed profound learning difficulties. Since then her whole life has been caring for children with learning difficulties, but that is not all. She does not just provide a place of saftey for them, not indeed is her school simply a place of learning, the whole philosophy is about equality despite disability. Three of her teachers, including a progressive special educator, who works with the children increasing and improving their capacities, have physical disabilities.

Interestingly, although her school is primarily for children with learning difficulties, the system in INdia for some of the rural children is inadequate to say the least and therefore children with physcial disabilities, for example cerebral palsy, especially if there are speech difficulties, are assumed to have learning difficulties. One of the children who was brought to her was so oppresssed by his treatment as a result of his physical disability, that he was presumed ot have MR and sent to her. He did not speak and was very withdrawn. The special educators worked with him and gaining his confidence brought him out. Eventually the psychology assessment showed that he had no learning difficulties at all and now he is integrated into a normal school. All these stories are so extraordinary, that it beggars belief. This is not being done as a result of a government program, this is being done despite government apathy. She forges ahead making a difference to so many children and families simply because she believes so strongly that they deserve better. And she is right.

There are 47 children on her register at present of which 36-8 attend regularly. Her school costs 60,000rs a month to run. She receives 13,000rs from local sources, including a paltry government grant and notional fees from the children (if they can pay, they give her £1.30 per month) leaving 47,000rs (~£650) to find through other sources and they are difficult to come by. I would like to help her and if anyone is interested in learning more or becoming a donor, please email me.

1 comment:

Sally Whittingham said...

This is sooooo inspiring isn't it Arabella. She is one amazing person to keep on and on and be so determined in the face of the dire attitudes prevalent in India. It is horrific to think of what people with disability have to endure in India and amazing what Catherine has made possible. Very very inspiring as you say.