Friday, December 13, 2013

Their legs don't work? No need to school them.

Dara at the Cambodian brick factory
where he worked

The staff at C.'s school never disappoint me. There is always some innovative expression of their  incompetence to keep life interesting. 

This week, I stopped by at an hour when I don't normally to drop off spare clothes for C. I found her lying on her back on a mattress, furiously chewing her sleeve. (For C., that's always a sign of thirst or hunger, but let's leave that aside for now.) She was wearing her two layers for indoors: one a turtle-neck, the other a sweater. On top of those, she had on her two heavy sweaters intended for outdoors. Then, to cap all that came a blanket. 

Oh, and did I mention that the building is centrally-heated in a major way? 

The class aides "explained" that she was all bundled up at 2:55 pm for departure at 5:00 pm because there might not be anybody around to clothe her then. But is there any excuse for over-heating a child? Ever? Especially one who can't complain about it. (I removed the bulky outer layers myself).

But whenever I gripe about C.'s school - which usually doesn't surpass a third-rate bebysitting service -  I recall the millions of children with disabilities who never enter a school. Some of their impairments would not even rate as disabilities in our books. That's how minor they are. 

Here, for instance, are two such children. One of them suffers from "misshappen feet". The other child's legs were paralyzed after an illness. Her mother said: "I never thought of sending my child to school. I used to think it is a complete waste of time, considering her disability."

These two children, were denied an education. One languished at home. The other worked in a brick factory until the people from World Vision intervened. Their stories are here.

An estimated 98 per cent of children with disabilities in the developing world do not attend school.

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