Mentally challenged person is not a burden but the very personification of God’s love- Father Philip Attukadavil

Irfan Ahmad. Updated: 9/10/2016 12:54:03 PM This Person: Then and Now

In this world where almost every person lives for themselves, there are some who find happiness in the service of humanity. One such person is Father Philip Attukadavil who is recently appointed as the director of Sahara Special School, a day care centre for mentally challenged children located at Trikuta Nagar in Jammu city.

All his life, this man has worked with the mentally challenged kids across India and now has been shifted to Jammu. He believes that having a mentally challenged person in a family is not a curse, a burden or an object of disgrace but the very personification of God’s love, blessing and divine grace. Though Father has a very tight schedule of working but he found time to have a cup of coffee & conversation regarding Sahara Special School with The News Now. Here is how it went:

TNN: Tell us briefly about Sahara Special School?

Father Philip:Located in Trikutanagar, Sahara Special School is a day care centre for mentally challenged children. It was established in July 2001. At present the institution has the enrolment of 32 children who are given training in self development practices and is functioning under the CMI SERVICE SOCIETY which is a registered charitable society. The institution give training to mentally challenged children and help them stand up on their feet. It is the first institution of its kind in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

TNN: How many teachers are there?

Father Philip: The number is teachers are five all of them are highly qualified and well trained in their respective fields.

TNN: What are the aims and objectives of your institution?

Father Philip: The prime objective of the institution is to help the children to develop the full capacity of their brain which helps them to control their physical and mental functioning. The intention is to make them self-reliant as much as possible through various training programmes. We also treat their physical disabilities using various therapies and work with speech therapy to sharpen their communicative and analytical abilities of body and mind.

TNN: Why did you choose working with mentally challenged kids?

Father Philip: In society, everyone has right to live with dignity. In our world, mentally challenged children are humiliated and are not accepted by our society. We treat them as burden that is why we come up with these special schools, so that these kids can live with dignity and become self dependent.

TNN: What activities do you teach your students?

Father Philip: There are many activities with which we try to keep our students active such as social skills, communicative skills, Home living, self direction, learning Alphabets, Music and dance and other activities that help them to live life happily

TNN: What are the challenges that your faculty face?

Father Philip: Every good work is the Gods work. We at Sahara serve the society and we will continue till end .The only challenge that we face is the "mentally challenged children" which are totally different from normal children. It is hard to force them to do anything. If they do not like something, they will not do it. They do not have any fear which by the way is good for them.

TNN: How do you work on finances?

Father Philip: We are funded by some charitable organisations and NGO'sn along with help from civil society.

TNN: What the admission process for students in Sahara and how you classify them?

Father Philip: There is no formal admission process here. We generally admit students on the basis of his/her IQ level. Also, we examine new student 9-10 days after that the students is being admitted here and we have classified students on the basis of IQ level.

TNN: Do you charge anything?

Father Philip: Only if the family of the child can pay. However, our monthly fee is very less as compared to other institutions in rest of India.

TNN: What future have you planned for Sahara?

Father Philip: We are working towards the improvement in the standards of this school. But to achieve this, we need lot of funds. We want to start speech therapy department with professional trainers and also vocational training section and many more things.

TNN: At last What is your message to our readers?

Father Philip: Mentally challenged children are also part of our society. They have also emotions, feelings and dreams. We should help them to grow and also we should not neglect them. God has not cursed them, it’s just that they only have lesser IQ level than normal children.

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