FOR THE LOVE OF HER BABY
At the end of a normal and happy pregnancy the day of birth came
and, sadly, damage was caused to the brain of the baby at the time
of delivery, resulting in her having cerebral palsy. Mithu and her
husband were told that their daughter, Malini, would be a 'vegetable'
for the rest of her life. Angry and absolutely unwilling to accept
this verdict, they sold up everything and left India for Britain
where they found caring, detailed help and support.
Malini developed a delightful, out-going personality with a wonderful
sense of humour. She had a razor-sharp mind trapped in a body which
would not obey her commands. Mithu loved her very much and wanted
to give her the best chance of a full life. So to prepare herself
to meet her daughter's particular needs, she took training and then
gained experience by working in a hospital. Malini was six years
old when they returned to India.
On their arrival Mithu discovered that there were no schools for
children like hers. She now had to decide either to accept the situation
as it was or take things into her own hands and do something about
it. She set about raising financial support and eventually found
a building in Bombay in which to start the first school for Spastics
(those suffering from cerebral palsy) in India.
Her love drove her to discover where other similarly disabled children
were and to offer them education too. This was far from easy. In
India at the time it was a disgrace to have a disabled child so
they were kept out of sight and never mentioned by their families.
However within a few years there were 70 pupils in the new school.
Twenty years later old prejudices and misunderstandings are gradually
disappearing. Schools have been started all over India by teachers
trained in the first school. Children like Malini, from the richest
to the poorest families, are being given the same opportunities
to overcome their disabilities.
Malini and others have now been through university and she is running
her own business. But it could have been a different story.
Despair at her daughter's situation could have driven Mithu into
feeling sorry for herself. She could have returned with Malini to
Britain to give her everything, forgetting the fact that there were
so many others whose needs would never be met. But her love was
the kind that grows and spills over to include others, inspiring,
encouraging and bringing hope where there was none before.
(Mithu Alur is the Founder-President of The Spastic Society