Care and compassion

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DANUSKA DA GAMA | NT BUZZ

It all started with an editorial on local daily highlighting issues of the visually impaired people in Goa. Mobilised to try and make a change, a few parents then decided to come together and raise funds to provide education for the differently-abled children in 1981. This led to the formation of Lokvishwas Pratishthan with its headquarters in Dhavali, Ponda.

In the same year, it set up a residential school for the hearing-impaired children in Bandora, the first for dfferently-abled students in Goa. In 1999, the section for mentally challenged children was opened, followed by a school for the visually impaired in 2001.

In all so far, it has two schools and a higher secondary section for hearing impaired, a school for the visually impaired, a teacher’s training centre for training special teachers, and a school and day care centre for the mentally challenged.

In order to serve the needy students for other areas in Goa, the institute has spread its wings by opening special schools for mentally challenged children in remote areas like Mokhard (Canacona), Quepem and Valpoi. All efforts are made to impart quality education using the latest technology, and to empower the

differently-abled. According to chairman, Anup Priolkar, his organisation is the only one at state level that takes care of all the children with special needs. “We are focused on delivering the best to make each and every child independent and a good citizen,” he says, adding that a lot of care and attention is taken to integrate these youngsters into society and create acceptance from their family members.

Along the way, the school has had several milestones, both big and small, and has been assisted by the contribution of various like-minded people and stakeholders. And Priolkar believes that a lot more can be done, if the government takes up their cause. But, he says, their pleas have remained unattended at the ministerial level so far.

Excerpts from an interview

Q. Marching forward tell us about the next big plan now?

During the last 39 years, we focused on providing quality education and rehabilitation of children. Although our headquarters is at Ponda, we have branches at five different locations across Goa.

We have now also decided to shoulder the responsibility to set up well equipped residential/shelter home for the elderly. After conducting a thorough study and visiting similar projects outside Goa, a provision for 16 inmates; 12 men and 4 women, is being worked out along with other facilities like kitchen, dining hall, recreation hall, clinical room with medical facilities, accommodation for an

administrator, and an office.

Q. Over the years, how has the school evolved and kept up with latest teaching methods, child rearing, etc?

From 2009, we focused on moving out of Ponda, and we were able to start our first school in Canacona. Each year we tried to accommodate children from other areas like Quepem, Honda, Marcel and Mollem. All these schools are well equipped with facilities for physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and clinical psychology that have shown very progressive results and outcome. It’s the happiness and satisfaction you encounter on the faces of parents who once came with some hope, that pushes us to work harder.

Q. A lot of parents still do not allow their differently-abled children to study or keep them home. Why do you think this happens?

It is not so much now. I would agree that this used to happen 30- 35 years ago; that too because of lack of knowledge and non-availability of facilities at one’s doorstep. Now, with parents being educated, there is a lot of positivity and acceptance. In all of this the role of the medical practitioner, innovation in technology, and camps organised by various NGOs have remained instrumental in changing the mindset of the parents. Today parents of differently-abled children are taking positive steps and have a strong and supportive role along with the teacher and the other resource persons for the development of their child.

Success stories and accolades won

In 1995, the management succeeded in securing its own building at Dhavali, Ponda.

In 2012, some of the children participated at the International Para Olympic in Australia and won a gold medal.

Since 2010, the SSC results of visually impaired and hearing-impaired have remained 100 per cent consistently.

10 students of the hearing-impaired school were invited by Z24 Taas on the eve of Baal din in 2016 to perform record dance. The acknowledgement of the students’ performance was a great achievement.

In 2019, the students from all the schools of Lokvishwas Pratishthan performed Mahanatya based on ‘Geet Ramayan’ in Ravindra Bhavan, Margao.

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