For some differently-abled children from Dalit families in a remote village in India’s Bihar state, help has come from unexpected quarters.
With the belief that every child, regardless of their developmental progress, should have the same rights, the Rotary Club of Albert Park has been supporting the Bodhi Tree Educational Foundation School (BTEFS) at Bodhi Tree Campus, Shiripur Village, Bodhgaya since 2016.
The association between the club and the school started in early 2016. Antoinette Bongiorno, a Melbourne-based financial planner and philanthropic donor, visited the school and met with the BTEFS’s Project Director, Dhirendra Sharma.
Witnessing and understanding the issues facing the village, the impoverished conditions, and the stigma associated with children having special needs, Antoinette decided to support the BTEFS and, with generous donations, create and develop activities at the school.
With assistance from the Rotary Australia World Community Services (RAWCS), Ishwar Prasad from the club was appointed to oversee the management of donations.
Ishwar visited BTEFS in March 2017 to assess whether the persons running the school had created an effective learning and teaching environment.
Following a successful assessment, RAWCS took over the project in May 2017 and provided additional funding to develop the school. BTEFS has over 40 students with several more being assessed for enrolment.
The school supports children with disabilities including autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, and many other disabilities.
Each child is assessed according to their abilities so that tailored tuition is provided to the best of BTEFS’s resources.
“All the activities are designed to build a child’s confidence and develop higher self-esteem. The children are nurtured in a relaxing and open environment so that they can improve their motor skills and cognitive skills at their own pace,” Prasad said.
Children are encouraged to participate in all activities, make friends and embrace the environment.
Since parents of these children face difficulty funding their child’s education and extra-curricular activities, the BTEFS is helping bridge the divide between children of differing abilities and backgrounds.
The club continues to assist developing villages and regions in rural India.
In the past, the club has helped Indian communities with the installation of water filtration units, toilets and sanitary napkin assembly units.
The club also actively pursues its endeavour to promote their activities to the wider Australian community.
The club does this in the hope that it can seek support of all kinds, and appreciates any help it can receive.
To help support this cause, donations can be made online through the RAWCS website https://donations.rawcs.com.au, project number 71-2016-17. Donations are tax deductible.