Report Cards – January 2008

The State of our Education at Shishur Sevay:  Well, six girls came home with the Bengali equivalent of "A" for their January round of examinations.  One girl came home with "C" but it’s not a real C because someone else did her exam for her.  What that means is that one of our girls (I know which one) did her exam and then did the second exam for our "C" student — so I guess she should really have an A+.

But truly this is so exciting!  It’s validation for them and for us… for the intensity of the teaching, for their work and self-discipline.

So, here is the breakdown of our teaching right now….

There are three groups:  One group (6 girls) goes to school at the government school and comes home for six more hours of school.

One group (3 girls) is being educated entirely at Shishur Sevay.  There are multiple reasons for this… but they have classes beginning at 8 am, and then at 11 am join the others for another six hours of class.

One group (4 girls with handicaps) has classes four hours in the morning. Part of that time is spent in the regular classroom with the other girls.  In the late afternoon another teacher comes, from 4-8, and works with them again, everything from cognitive development to feeding and potty training.  If Ganga and Bornali are awake after lunch, they also join the English class from 2-4.

The schedule will be changing for the handicapped girls.  Their  morning teacher is leaving for another position, but will continue to come in the afternoon for a while to continue working with them.  The four children will begin attending classes at Indian Institute for Cerebral Palsy on a daily basis from 9am to 1:30 pm.  Tomorrow morning we will take them there for one of several evaluations for class placement.  The children are known to the staff there as we have attended the outpatient department there, and each was thoroughly evaluated there in May 2007.

The handicapped children receive physiotherapy almost every day.  Next week they will be evaluated for speech and language and we will start treatment as recommended.  I tried to get the speech therapist to start this week but he was getting married yesterday….

Ganga is most aware of school, wants to be with the older didis all the time, and wants to stay at school when we go there in the morning.  She seems to understand that she will be starting school, and that she will have a uniform and school bag.  She squeals when we tell her.  Ganga is also the one who knows she is different, knows the others are doing things she can’t do.

The IICP is not trained for the blind, but Sonali is not yet three and they will work with her in several modalities.  We will see how it works out.  Bornali loves action and will be thrilled to be moving about.  Rani (Poomina), well we never really know…  Speaking of her though, yesterday she actually sang a line of Baa Baa Black Sheep… then wouldn’t repeat it, but she has the rhythm!!!!!!!!.  Little bits open up… make it through the slow brain waves to join us in music and rhythm.  The sounds are beginnings, moments to build on, circuits to build on.  Rani loves music, waves her arms, sways, joins us, soul to souls…..

I do feel a sense of wonder at having the children.   All the usual words seem sappy.  I was telling Cici it’s like first seeing the Earth from the sky, and looking at masses of people, and then coming closer and closer, and the masses become individuals, and then the individuals become a small group of very special people in my life, children I love, children who look the same from afar, but each so different, so special, so unique, so much my children, all of them.  And having said that, a part of me is already missing the handicapped children who will be gone at school most of the day come April.  I’m hopeless.  I laugh at myself.

Ganga tried to talk to Cici Didi on the phone today.  Ganga was in her standing frame when Cici called.  Ganga hates the frame because it is hard, so hard for her to hold herself up even with the frame and leg braces for support.  But she also loves praise and responds, so when we tell her how good she is standing, she grins and tries even harder.  Remember, less than a year ago she could not hold her head up.  Cici called while this was going on, and I asked Ganga if she wanted to talk to her…. I’m not sure what she understood but she knows Cici’s picture and knows "Didi" means big sister…. so I held the phone to her and she grinned and tried so hard to speak.  She mouthed words, but no sound came out.  She has listened on the phone before, but this was the most excited she has been.  She was so happy.  And Cici didi was so happy that she had made a difference.

Small things in our lives… islands of peace away from the turmoil.  I know people have all sorts of wonderful descriptive words for what I’m doing… but frankly from inside, I’m just hiding out from the big bad world with my little family of orphan children. The sun shines a lot here, even through the inevitable monsoons of life.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kasturi
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 20:24:21

    Hi Michelle, Just wanted to say it was a great idea to put pictures and names of your children (I am referring to your post on the dilemma!). It’s so good to be able to personally connect to each of them and read about how they are blossoming! Very happy to hear they are doing so well in studies 🙂


  2. Michelle
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 21:40:27

    Thanks Kasturi, It seems right that others get to know the children — close up instead of that view from the sky.


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January 2008
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