December 19, 2010
School of Business, Kochi
Nearly 650 million people worldwide live with disabilities. In India, an estimated 90 million people are disabled. Conditions of disability include blindness, speech and hearing defects, orthopedic handicaps, mental retardation and mental illness.
30% of the disabled in India are children below the age of 14, of whom 90% don’t go to school.
Among the 10% fortunate ones are the children studying at the Government U.P. School in Edapally. On World Disability Day on December 3, 2010, MBA students from the Amrita School of Business at Kochi, spent an entire afternoon with them.
Given below is a brief report of the visit in the students’ own words.
We, the MBA students at the Kochi campus, recently had a wonderful and memorable experience of volunteering at a program organized by Urban Resource Mission, Govt of India.
Various art events such as singing contests, painting competitions and sports events were organized for differently abled children at a nearby school, and we, the volunteers were given the responsibility for coordinating the activities.
First, there was a small march-past of the children around the park. Greatly impressed by their spirit and enthusiasm, we couldn’t refrain from joining in and walking alongside the children.
The enthusiasm of the children visibly increased when the sports and arts competitions began.
We saw how they participated in the painting competition, coloring with full concentration. We saw their sportsmanship emerge as they took part in sports events such as running races, lemon and spoon races, etc. We cheered and supported them.
Later we sat with the children and talked. We asked them about their lives and their dreams. The children told us that they wanted to lead normal lives; they didn’t want their disabilities to hold them back.
Equal opportunity was a common theme. We understood that the children didn’t seek sympathy. Instead, they wanted to interact with people and share their skills and talents like normal kids.
And in a way, we learned about the true value of life. We learned that mental and physical health is a precious gift indeed. Through their enthusiastic spirit, the children taught us that if only one keeps striving for self-improvement, even the greatest obstacles are overcome.
Overall, we had fun, the children had fun, but we also learned a lot.