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During my experience as a trainee clinical psychologist in a school for students with special educational needs in Pakistan I encountered amazing children. These encounters led me to reflect on several important issues, but also to pay attention to little moments of everyday life. I collected some of these thoughts as memories written on the pages of a diary.
He laid his tiny head down on the desk with gloom and darkness extensively growing in his eyes. He was staring at us with emptiness in his strabismic eyes, an emptiness which I had not noticed in the past three hours, while one of my colleagues and I were deeply indulged in different activities with him. When I told him that we were leaving now, he uttered the words “Don’t go”. He wanted to play more. I understood, as in the past few hours we had made a connection which cannot be given a name, but which was beautifully transformed into speech. I could understand easily how it felt when someone who gets close to you abandons you without knowing that you need him to be with you. But as we had to leave, we gave him a promise we would come back and meet him next week, as we didn’t want him to be sad. On the way back, I realized that perhaps we human beings have an innate tendency to deceive others, to give them false hopes. We deceive them deliberately. We make promises that we cannot keep.
He wasn’t just beautiful but impeccably beautiful – the boy who made me realize that we should value the relations with people around us and not just take them for granted, as they are indispensable…
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye”
Antoine De Saint-Exupery
The most fascinating time is observing these children with special needs while they are in their dining room or are having lunch during recess time. Most of them sit quietly and are well-mannered. Yet, there are those exceptions when someone would snatch food from their fellow’s hands – that could actually make one laugh.
We all enjoy eating savory and delicious food. We crave for specific kinds of food and sate our cravings for them. In the same manner these children feed themselves. They are also preoccupied with different eatables. They are food followers and we can call them food buffs. The variety of colorful lunch boxes of these children is impressive. We were even fascinated by the way these little children will stop each other’s snatching other children’s lunches. They munch every bit of their lunch. They even show stubbornness by insisting on a refined taste food such as beryani, karahi and kabab from their families. After observing them at the dining table you might call them bon-viveurs, too.
One day I was just observing a group of girls at a table. Their hair was messy, their clothes were tousled, they were even not gossiping with each other. The happiness they were getting from the food was clearly observable. I saw that among the girls, a girl who didn’t have her lunch box was given a piece of cake by the girl sitting next to her, and interestingly they started talking to each other. It seemed that the only happiness they were getting from life was food. It was as if they understood and felt the language of food. At that time, I thought that the love for food indeed can do miracles. That people who share their food with others are the kindest people on this earth. It is this quality – love for food – that makes these children and us same.
“After drawing every figure, she used to show it to all the people in the room to seek appreciation. Just a ‘wow’ from me or my fellow trainees kept motivating her to complete the figures, continuously struggling with her little fingers and still unable to draw them properly. However, she always worked on them until they were complete.”
“His squinted eyes were repeatedly looking up at me again and again while colouring the picture to see whether I was watching him or not (deep inside expecting that I was). Even one smile was enough for him – at last he coloured the picture beautifully with his favorite colours”.
These instances made me feel that this world is made of little imperceptible things. Our little attentions, care, affection and love can change the world. Small gestures can create difference in the lives of those who are known as the “Special Population” but are actually the “Neglected Population” of our communities. Giving them some of our time, a few words of love and a little affection will make them able to live their life, not exactly the way we are living ours, but still they will be able to live with respect, dignity and happiness in their hearts. These little gestures that we offer to others might look insignificant but they take an ample and considerable place in their lives. These small gestures will never lose their value as little things do matter and they are capable of changing one’s whole life.
[Head photo © Road Fun]
Aisha Rasool is currently pursuing her degree in MS in Clinical Psychology from Lahore, Pakistan. She loves volunteering and have been working with destitute and vulnerable women of Punjab residing in Darulaman (shelter home), with children having different intellectual disabilities in Lahore, have been providing basic sexual and reproductive human rights education to youth with a project in Rawalpindi. She is part of youth initiative circle ‘DAIRA’ which is spreading awareness among youngsters about issues which should be taken in consideration immediately; she is their content writer on Millennium Development Goals and Pakistan’s achievement. She has been collecting success stories of children who are struggling in their lives with different mental challenges and disabilities, just to encourage them and have a sense of accomplishment and achievement in them. She has been chosen as Youth Education Ambassador by Idar-e-talim-o-agahi and A World at School. She is looking forward to bring a change, change in mindsets of people, change in our environment and society towards the disable children that educating them will be there wisest investment for future. She wants to make them part of inclusive education system too, which will not only benefit these children, but Pakistan in a broader spectrum.