Two of SIFI’s team members (Venkatesh and Aarthi) visited Little’s Trust in Madurai to chalk out the final details of Project Little Stars that will focus on education of children with special needs. Here is a personal account of their field visit.
We reached Little’s Trust at 7 am, in the wee hours of 22nd April. Chinamma, the source of inspiration behind executing this project was the first to arrive along with her mother. The clinical psychologist followed. He began examining the kids one by one. Chinamma was the first as her confident smile and cheerfulness exuded a positive aura. The teacher assigned for the special kids sat beside the psychologist, taking notes for each child.
We connected with the people there on a personal note. Many revelations surfaced from our understanding of the people, their relationships, attitudes, and problems. A few parents were not aware of their child’s birth date. And a few others were frustrated dealing with their kids who had special needs. There were others faced with the household problems like alcoholic husband, extreme poverty and indebtness etc. It was evident from our interactions that a lot needed to be done to improve the state of affairs for the family as a whole and not just the children.
Post lunch, Mrs Vardhini, founder of Little’s Trust addressed the parents assembled there. The following points were communicated.
1. Project Little Stars will benefit 11 kids with special needs.
2. Evening classes will be conducted from Monday to Thursday, beginning at 4pm and ending at 6pm.
3. Day long classes (from 9am to 6pm) with adequate breaks will be conducted on Friday and Saturday, for which Little’s Trust will arrange transport.
4. A nominal fee of Rs 100 will be charged for each kid. This gives a sense of responsibility and parents would be more interested in their kid’s progress.
5. There will be an evaluation once in 4 months to appraise the benefits of the project and measure the progress of kids. This will be done by the same clinical psychologist.
During the interaction, she urged parents to be understanding of their kid’s special needs and extend as much support and encouragement as possible. She reiterated that the future of these kids would improve only if we all worked together and provided a positive environment.
Most parents resonated with hope and optimism about Project Little Stars. It was a great feeling to have spent the day with kids, who have great dreams and ambitions. It felt good to know that SIFI will change the lives of 10 kids who will live to change the lives of many more. Our work may be just a tiny drop in a vast ocean, but it is a collection of drops that makes an ocean. SIFI is happy that Project Little Stars articulates our motto – collective action for sustainable empowerment.