Module 3: WHAT FOR?

(Page 11) Resource sheet 2

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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 of India)

R1-M3-PAGE 11

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