Reconciling our victory
AKASH is the name of a small child who has defied a destiny imposed on him by an uncaring society. Aakash, born into a poor family, is physically and mentally disabled through his first years growing up his limp arms would flail by his side and his awkward behavior and his worried mother Sokina would look on in both shame and regret wondering whether her son would ever be able to move his hands or live out his life without ever doing the things a normal child would do.
In most cases, children like Aakash would just be another statistic; another nameless citizen among million others; but little Aakash had a mother that despite seemingly insurmountable odds refused to let go without giving her son a fighting chance to live in dignity.
The journey was naturally not without difficulty the older Aakash grew the more pronounced his problem became. Sokina recalls that she took him from place to place to find some sort of respite for his condition, and when he stopped being able to swallow his food she almost lost hope.
It was about then that she came across the SEID (Special Education for Intellectually Disabled) Trust, a non-governmental voluntary development organization that aimed to rehabilitate children with multiple disabilities, into mainstream society, as well as facilitating activities directed towards ensuring the rights of such children.
That was two years ago, today Aakash (now eight) can be found coloring his book, oblivious to the challenges this simple activity would have posed in his past life.
Through SEID's community physiotherapy centre and special education schools underprivileged disabled children like Aakash are being provided life skills training that can transform their lives. The program at SEID is designed to rehabilitate these children with disabilities and give them a chance to live as close to a normal life they can.
When SEID started in 2003 it had around 50 students in one specialized school, today the SEID Trust operates three specialized schools that is imparting necessary life skills to over 250 students at Rayer Bazaar, Shyamoli and Kamrangir Char
The center has now been shifted to Rayer Bazaar area and serves over 50 children of different ages with multiple disabilities. It was at this center at Rayer Bazar that Aakash found his identity and his mother found the hope to her dreams. Sokina proudly says that the “physiotherapy and life skills he is learning here at SEID will help get through life.”
We talk of victory in December, but it is organizations like the SEID Trust, and Grameenphone and people like Aakash and his mother Sokina that are helping us reconcile the victory won so many years ago with the victories we are only just beginning to see in everyday heroes triumphing against their everyday struggles.
(The author is a retired marketing specialist based in Boca Raton, Florida, USA. who was greatly moved by his visit to SEID during his recent visit to Bangladesh)