News Helping children with disabilities for 25 years
August marks Niketan’s 25th anniversary, but the first seed for all our work was planted in 1993, 30 years ago. That was when Antoinette met Sayed, a little boy with spastic paralysis, during her bike ride from Indonesia to the Netherlands. She promised to help him, and now 25 years later, not only he but thousands of children and their families have received help.
A school was started, ambulatory care, parent participation processes and we grew with the needs of the children into providing vocational activities and a residential facility.
In addition to Sayed, Laila and Turiqul were two other children who were among the first to receive help.
At the time, Laila was a girl with spastic paralysis, who was eager to learn and always cheerful. Her spasms made walking, talking and eating difficult, but she never gave up. When she fell, she got back up laughing. She was brought to school by bike by her brother, as her mother was caring for her husband, who was confined to the house because of leprosy. When Laila was about 16, her brother emigrated to Malaysia and Laila started to help her mother care for her father. She managed to cook food and take care of the household. She was so proud to do her part. But when Laila was 30, disaster struck. Laila suffered a stroke and since that day she can only laugh and cry. Her mother now cares for her husband and daughter. Every week, Laila receives physical therapy at home, moments she looks forward to and that are very important to her.
Turiqul came to the project as a three-year-old; he has Down syndrome. He was a mischievous boy, theatrical and fond of music. He came to the day center for a year, but because he was having a great time at home with children from the neighborhood, we gave his parents some tips and advice and urged them to come back if Turiqul started showing challenging behavior. We didn’t see them again until Turiqul hit puberty. He became somewhat cross, petulant and had elevated theatrical behavior to an art form. Turiqul needed structure. He joined our woodworking group and attended dance and music lessons. He blossomed and proved to be a talented dancer, with his theatricality helping him to perform roles beautifully. Turiqul is now 31 years old, still helps out occasionally in the woodworking group and helps his parents at home. His favorite activity, you guessed it, is dancing and creating theater performances for his parents and neighbors.
Over the past 25 years, we have been able to make a difference to many children and their parents. As there are still hardly any facilities for people with disabilities in the district of Manikganj, the care we provide will continue to be very much needed in the years to come. We are in talks with the national government about financial support, but this a long and difficult process.
Please join us in celebrating our anniversary. If you kindly donate 25 euros, we can give 1 child textbooks, a walker or medication against epilepsy.