S.A. Institute

In June 2009, in Lahore, I was introduced to a group of men and women who not only belonged to various professions but was also of different religious faiths. The organizer said my Faith is Islam and my religion is to "Serve Humanity". Her goal in life is to work to empower women, particularly mothers with Special Needs Children. They utilize methods of teaching these children, art and music to become more productive and respected in a society which discriminates against them. That same night, I called a Board Meeting and asked the Board their permission to offer our available resources to establish a small place in an area where people of different faiths live. Without hesitation, it was approved. Akram Choudhry.

S. A. Institute was established which is being managed and operated by S.A. Foundation for Women. It is located in Maryam Colony next to Defense Housing Society, Lahore. Its population, about 35,000, is primarily poverty level. Most of the men work as laborers, women work as domestics in nearby houses, and children work in local shops as soon as they are old enough. The average household is comprised of 2 parents and 6 to 8 children. These families can barely afford proper nutrition, let alone the expenses of education.

Children who are disabled, whether at birth or later by incident, are taught few skills, not even the basics of personal hygiene. They are often consigned to a life of begging on the streets. Maryam Colony is unique in that its populate is half Christian and half Muslim.

S.A. Institute for Special Children was opened there in 2009 to achieve several goals:

  • Provide free education to all children with special needs and at a very low cost to all other students to create a future without poverty
  • Teach children with severe disabilities self-care, knowledge, and skills that can lead to their independence
  • Integrate children with disabilities with other children to break down the stigma that can occur with being a Special Needs Child
  • Expose young children of different faiths to each other and allow them to understand that they are connected at the human level more than separate by their religious beliefs, by studying and playing together.

The school has about 130 students. Each child receives books, school supplies, a back pack and a uniform. Special needs children also receive a nutritious lunch and medication if necessary.

The educational package is free for special needs students. All others pay a small monthly fee of 10 to 15 rupees, or about 11 to 17 cents (US).

 

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