Today I spent nearly an entire day with mentally and physically handicapped children. I must admit I am tired. Not because of the work I did or because I had a long day.
I am tired because there was so much going on at the facility. First of all, the place is bigger than it appears from the outside. Second, the Kim Foundation caters to the young and the old. The age range is from 7 to 25. This was surprising and at the same time, it made so much sense. There aren’t enough resources to separate the young and old. As it stands even with the less expensive labor rate in Indonesia the bills do pile up. What was most tiring was the constant buzz of the kids and the children. I must say that the staff works very hard to manage the kids and activities throughout the day.
The word of the day was “focus” but before we go there, I need an intro. What goes on in a place such as this, was my initial question. With a group of 15 to 18 kids and young adults, it was certainly busier than I thought it would be.
Kids will be kids and these kids are so much the same and yet so different. The word of the day “focus” came up a few times throughout the day. This was because that is what most of the kids lack. Not because they cannot focus, but because they are easily distracted.
My presence with my phone and snapping pictures and taking videos was already a distraction. It is difficult to explain in simple terms. Yet the word focus also applies to the teachers. They need to be vigilant and always on the lookout for kids wandering off and hurting themselves or others.
It was amazing how much certain children can focus when they were putting beads on the strings to make bracelets. They were totally into it.
I am sure there was nothing else on their minds at that very moment.
Yet when one of them spotted the fact that I was recording or taking a photo I was an instant diversion from their activity.
Kids and activities.
As I mentioned, there is so much going on. From the beginning to the end of the day it is nonstop. There are no breaks for the kids, no nap time it is full on.
The kids are often split into groups such as painting, arts and crafts, and making bracelets. Dancing is also a part of the curriculum and so is music. The kids and the instructor were both creating music and dancing up a storm. When the drums sounded off it sounded like a marching band was approaching. Some kids wish not to participate or are in a sudden change of mood, they are sometimes removed from the group activity. This is to calm them down and also to keep the others from possibly acting up. Therefore, there are options for them to have quiet time in the chill-out room or to switch activities. At these times the kids may also be given one on one activities to calm down.
I am a father of two healthy happy, well-adjusted children who are now young adults. I am very grateful for that. Of course, there are plenty of reasons to be grateful in life. Yet in this part of the world, these kids are so lucky to be able to have a place like the Kim Foundation. We all know how challenging these situations can be. Most of us have had children that were sick from the flu or other illnesses, and we know how hard it is to look after them. The infrastructure for disabled children and young adults is simply not in place in Indonesia.
The locals in Indonesia lack the education and shall I say compassion in ways that we do in North America. The stigma for the mentally and physically challenged lingers here due to the lack of knowledge and ignorance of the fact. Hence, a place such as this is a blessing.
Food for thought.
This was a silly thought of mine, I may have even sounded like a fool. But when I asked Renata about this, that is what I realized how it sounded.
There is no graduation here I stated in a form of a question sort of. I say sort of because what I mean to say was… When these kids and young adults learn “enough” I thought they would be able to integrate into society.
I was wrong. Even though the kids receive speech therapy and are taught to read and count they will not learn enough or be able to function on their own.
I consider myself fairly intelligent, but I missed the boat on my question. This is not an illness or a medical condition. These kids cannot be cured of what ails them. This state is permanent. This is why these kids and the foundation needs a constant infusion of funds.
These kids do not graduate and earn a diploma. These kids and young adults are the way they are. They can assimilate and integrate better with the assistance and dedication of all the teachers at the Kim Foundation. This foundation does not get government subsidies or grants. They are at the mercy of donations and the kindness of others.
So how was my day?
It was a lot to take in. As I said, I was a single dad for 12 years. Make lunch, help with homework, and take the kids to guitar and singing lessons along with karate lessons. Clean the house, make dinner, do laundry, and hope to get to bed and chill for a bit. Yet these parents and amazing caregivers do this all day and these kids, unlike mine will never be fully integrated citizens. To sum up my day, this was enlightening and eye-opening as well as tiring. Hats off to every single caregiver on the planet. The job you all do is amazing and as for the rest of us, all we can do is support them and wish them all the best.
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