When Moses’ family discovered that he was different, they were afraid that their neighbours would look down on them. Some people believe that children who are born with a disability are a punishment from God because the parents have done something terrible in the past.
Moses was born with brain damage, which meant that he did not develop as quickly as other children. When he couldn’t keep up in school, the teacher beat him. Other boys teased him and hit him. Moses became afraid and stopped going out. His mother took him to a doctor, who just said: “Your son is an idiot, he’ll never be able to look after himself.”
Moses gets help One day, when Moses was twelve years old, some of Rosi’s partners came to the village. They asked if there were any children in the village with disabilities. “We don’t have any crazy children here!” said the villagers, and tried to chase them away. But Moses’ mother asked for support. Moses then got the chance to start attending a special school. With the help of the teachers there, he developed in leaps and bounds. Moses’ mother also got to learn how she could best support her son. The village people slowly became aware that there are no “disabled” children – only children with other abilites.
No more teasing After two years attending the special needs school, Moses is confident enough to take the bus by himself every morning. He has completed Year 8 and is now trained to work in the restaurant sector. He already runs the café at the centre, makes tea, serves food and takes payment. The village people slowly realised that there are no “disabled” children – only children with other abilites! “I used to be scared of everything and I hated my life,” says Moses. “Now I’m calm and happy. Nobody makes fun of me any more. Lots of people look up to me now!”
Alagumani’s new language “I was born deaf,” says Alagumani, 14, who lives and studies at a boarding school for children with disabilities, supported by Rosi and Andheri-Hilfe. “I couldn’t go to school and I had no proper clothes. My siblings pretended I didn’t exist. It felt like living in a prison. I used to get so angry because nobody cared about me that I would hit my mother. Then she’d hit me back. Finally, I got to come to the special school and learn sign language. For the first time, I can make myself understood and understand others! That made me so happy. I go to school and get good grades! And my mother has started to learn sign language so we can finally get to know each other.”
Blind children in Bangladesh, who have just received eye operations. More than one million people in Bangladesh have got their eye sight back thanks to Rosi Gollmann and her Bangladeshi partner organization.
The hidden children Some parents hide their differently abled children because of prejudices. Some are even tied or chained up. India has strong laws stating that children with disabilities have the same rights as other children, and should receive the support they need. But poor families rarely know that they have the right to support. That’s why Rosi and Andheri-Hilfe work with Indian organizations to support children with different abilities and to raise awareness of their rights.