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Dreams for special children

For Maya Biswas,life has been a difficult journey throughout. A middle-class homemaker in Behala,two of her three children are mentally challenged.

Written by Arindam Banerjee |
August 14, 2011 3:36:41 am

To impart education to her two mentally challenged children,Maya Biswas started a school where now 20 special children come to learn from her to become self-reliant

For Maya Biswas,life has been a difficult journey throughout. A middle-class homemaker in Behala,two of her three children are mentally challenged. A society which has been moving fast every passing moment,few of us stop to try and understand the concerns and needs of those who are differently abled. But Biswas had always believed in pursuing her dreams till they are achieved and for her it was a colossal task. Unable to find any institution which would train her kids to become self-reliant,she took it upon herself to start a small training-cum-orientation Centre for the mentally challenged at the garage in her house.

She met Ms Jayne Webb,a British national,who had been working on an UNESCO support grant with the physically challenged in her neighbourhood. Inspired by her,she decided to take some prescribed study courses to work with these special children . “I enrolled for some study courses,read up a lot on ways to deal with the needs of these special children and equipped myself better to impart the suitable training and education to my kids,” says Biswas.

Others soon followed suit and several other parents in the neighbourhood also came forward. A small organization ‘Divine Smile’ was thus formed in 1995 and four years later,in 1999,it integrated itself with another organisation ‘Deva Sangha Seva Pratisthan’. “I used to occasionally wonder why I had to suffer such a fateful condition. But I had to recompose myself,as parenting requires the hardest struggle of one’s life,” says a thoughtful Biswas.

There was hardly any relief initially but gradually several clubs and individuals came forward to contribute to its growth. A need for a distinct identity became necessary and in October 2008 ‘Divine Smile’ registered itself as a society. Some teachers joined and the small centre turned into a mini-school now having a language teacher,music and dance teacher,art teacher and physiotherapist.

The school now has 22 students with 10 boys and 12 girls. Some of them have even attained adulthood but due to their restricted mental growth they are still cared upon by ‘Divine Smile’.

The school charges a minimal monthly fee but even that is exempted for those who face difficulties. “We often run short of money but then there cannot be a halt to the project. My dream is to build an institution which will take the complete care of these special children,” says Biswas. She is busy organising a small function on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan at school premises.

Last week,Biswas received an honorary award from a Bengali TV channel for her exemplary work.

“Like all other parents even I also want to see my children stay well and enjoy their lives in whatever manner possible. But now I have more than 20 children and so my happiness has also increased multiple times,” she adds before leaving to treat “her 20 children” with a special lunch.

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