Monday, December 14, 2009

Charity Gift Drive

Each year the OWC raises money to give gifts to some of the charities at Christmastime. Today three of us went to two charities to deliver gifts: Shiela Kothavala Institute for the Deaf (SKID)and Asha Niketan.

The first, SKID, is a school for hearing impaired children, mainly from financially disadvantaged families. There are 160 kids from kindergarten up to 10th level. They are able to lip read, sign language, read and write. The school is a three story building with a large area to run around and lots of trees. It is quiet, close to the city, but sheltered from all the noise.

Now that I think about it, these children are always sheltered from the noise of the city. Wow, I wonder what Bangalore would be like without noise?

We had a nice chat with the principal while we waited for the children to finish their lunch. Some of them travel two and a half hours by public bus to get to school. Many of the kids families do not sign. The school offers to teach the parents to sign but most do not as they are poor. To take time away from work would mean no food on the table. So they are unable to communicate properly with their own children.

The children wear uniforms (including shoes). They lined up after lunch and we gave each of them wrapped gifts: a chocolate bar, a lunch bag and a water bottle. The children were very appreciative and tried their best to say "thank you" and gave us a big smile. I had to remember to make eye contact and say "your welcome" to each one since they can lip read.

We saw the library after that and it was stalked with quite a few books. We were really impressed by some of the artwork the kids had put together - 3D roadways and parks with cars and people and rickshaws.

The second charity, Asha Niketan, is a home and vocational center for mentally challenged men and women. They are taught to take care of themselves and learn skills. The OWC provides wax for candlemaking which they are able to sell. As well, we pay for dance lessons and while we were there they did some dancing for us. It is very therapeutic and enjoyable for them - they were having a good time. We gave out gifts to about 25 people while we were there.

It was nice to see two more of the OWC charities. These two are both well established and well run. Some of the charities can be quite depressing but both of these left me with a feeling that a lot of good is being done and progress is being made.

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