Breaking the stereotype regarding children with multiple disabilities
Children with disabilities have to face lifelong challenges followed by their physical and mental disabilities. In addition to it, these children have to set back all their dreams and hopes for the future due to the narrow perception of society towards them and the lack of inclusive education facilities in schools. “Disability is the result of previous life sins, they can do nothing, they are only the burden to the family, it’s no use sending them to school” etc. etc. are often heard. 15-year-old Bir Bahadur has challenged all these stigmas and changed how the people in the society used to see him “worthless” and has made his parents proud.
Bir was born with multiple disabilities. Even at the age of 15, his mental development is still there in his childhood. He has cleft lip and cleft palate by birth and so he has unclear speech. His physical strength is also very low. He was admitted to Durga Devi Secondary School Puliya but because of his low physical strength and breathing issues, he would have a really hard time reaching school. Meanwhile, in school, he used to be bullied by his friends and was not able to learn like other children in his class, so he stopped going to school. His parents were more worried about his health, so they never force him for it. “Bir was just 2 when he had surgery in Lucknow. The doctor said his heart is very small and he won’t live longer” Said Mr. Dhansingh Buda, father of Bir Bahadur. Dhansingh and his wife are small farmers residing along with their three children in Gurans Rural Municipality. Agricultural farming and offseason labour migration to India are the major source of income for the family.
Dhansingh used to be very worried regarding Bir and was hopeless about him. But he has now seen a spark in Bir’s life. The progress Bir is making being a child with multiple disabilities is remarkable. This can be a huge motivation for other children like him. Bir has passed 2nd-grade securing the third position in his class. But you will be surprised that he didn’t go to school. It’s because of the School at home Program implemented under Sahayatra-II Project. This project is implemented by SOSEC Nepal Dailekh in Collaboration with Save the Children and in close coordination with Gurans RM. Bir has been studying at his home since 2019. The concept was implemented with the aim that Children with Multiple disabilities who are unable to reach school have access to basic education. One trained facilitator per child supports children to learn at home through the use of learning and playing material supported from the project. The classes are conducted for 4 hours. Four other children like Bir are learning at their respective homes through this concept. It not only covers the learning aspects of the child’s learning but the facilitator also supports the children to develop positive behavior and attitude. Bir who used to deny talking with a stranger now greets the person visiting him with a warm smile. He has also become more aware of his cleanliness and likes to wear clean clothes. “My teacher has also taught me to say the home address and contact number of my father in case I forgot my way to home,” Said Bir with a smile on his face. Bir is very happy that he has passed his 2nd grade and promoted to 3rd one.
When the class first began, Bir wouldn’t want to sit in class with the facilitator. He used to insult the facilitator, cry and just scream aloud. “I still remember the first day of class, at that time I had a feeling that I cannot make him learn but now he enjoys a lot in class. For me it’s not less than a huge achievement to me” Said Mrs. Durpata Khatri, Facilitator. She is proud that her student is progressing.
Bir learns from 8 to 11 am. His learning progress is reviewed on monthly basis in his school and the ward office. Constructive monitoring from ward representatives, members of the Ward Child Rights Committee, teachers, and support from the project team is continued to make the learning of the children learning under the concept more effective.