Earlier today, I had the opportunity to do something that I have always wanted to do. Doing social work for people with special needs. This is one of my life’s bucket list and I’m so glad I had fulfilled this dream.
Honestly, when I was younger, I am not very fond with persons with special needs. I always had this fear that they might hurt me or do some thing bad. Don’t get me wrong, it’s just that I had an experience when I was 9 years old. When I had a vacation in our province, a mentally retarded girl suddenly grabbed my hat from my head while I walked past her. Being so young at that time I was so surprised and scared of what she did. And my mother was surprised at that time too, so we just ran away from the girl. What was more surprising is that she is running after us. My older cousin who was with us went to the girl to tell her to stop running at us. But it turned out that she just wants to return the hat to me. Funny! .. hehe.. 🙂
But that experience scared me that time. So, I was really not comfortable seeing or being with people like them. Those feelings change as I get older and I became a mom.
When I was still pregnant with Carlee, I fear she might be mentally ill when she is born. Because those were the times I had so many sadness inside my heart & I am pressured of the thought of me being a single mom. I tried my best not to be affected by what I feel and prayed so hard that the baby inside me won’t be affected too. And God is so good to us. She was born healthy, strong and beautiful..
As for people with special needs, I have realized they are not that bad. We just have to learn to understand them. They need more attention and love especially from their own families. But not all of them are blessed to have families who would love and take good care of them. And that is so sad to know.. 😦
Luckily, there are institutions that help these people. Like the one we visited, the “Elsie Gatches Village” in Alabang Muntinlupa City, Philippines. They accommodate, provides care and rehabilitation to abandoned and neglected children with special needs. I have heard of this institution a long time ago, but it is my first time to visit.
Together with my workmates, we had storytelling, art session, and gifts and snacks giving for 50 people with special needs. Most of them are not that young, but there minds are as young as 10 years old and below. So we really have to be patient with them and try to get their attention. Too bad we were not allowed to take pictures of them.
I was assigned to 6 guys who were all nice and sweet. Most of them are very attentive to what I read, although there are some whom you have to call their attention. But I had fun reading and talking to them. Especially the two guys who were always smiling and talking happily.
When the art session came, I had to let them sit where they want to. So my team was broken. Then a girl in a wheel chair caught my attention. No one was assisting her at that time, so I decided to come to her. She can not talk. I think she had cerebral palsy. I thought I wouldn’t caught her attention. At first, when I was talking to her she seems not to react on what I say. But then, I started to draw on her paper and show her what I had drawn. There was still no reaction. But when I asked her what she wants to do she pointed out her paper. That’s when I understand that she wants me to draw more pictures on it.
She keeps on doing that whenever I stopped making drawings. When our facilitator announced that they would be having spaghetti for snacks. I saw the smile on her face. So I thought I could stop making drawings and feed her first. But she doesn’t want to eat. She holds my hand and keeps on pointing on her paper. Even when I asked her if she is tired or sleepy because I saw it in her eyes, she doesn’t want me to stop making drawings. She points again on her paper.
I also saw that she likes the toys and treats she received because she keeps on hugging them. And when it’s time to say goodbye, we held each others hand and I said to her that I hope to see her again when I returned. Gratefully, I managed not to cry (… I’m not being cheesy here guys..) even if I was so touched with this girl’s gestures.
All in all, it was such a rewarding experience to make other people happy. Especially when you see true happiness in them. And also, this experience made our team bond with other workmates. I can say that I want to do this again sometime if God permits. And hopefully, I could get the same happy and learning experience.