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20th June 1999

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Caring doors open for those special children

This home initiated by CAMR will help mentally handicapped girls to learn skills to get on with their day-to-day lives

By Nilika de Silva

The words of Whitney Houston's song come to mind as I look at the beaming face of a 'special child' infectious in its happiness:

"Show them all the beauty they possess inside,
Give them a sense of pride, make it easier.........

"The child with problems has many potentials which need to be identified, stimulated, utilised, motivated, rehabilitated and reintegrated," a consultant in social work Dr. Rajaram Subbian said. But, he said, due to a narrow minded society, the child and the family are often shut off from society.

It is thus, encouraging to know that more and more people are working to give a better life to those facing mental retardation and other disabilities. In Sri Lanka there are approximately 1.5 to 2 lakhs of people who belong to this category.

The Ceylon Association for the Mentally Retarded (CAMR) formed more than 25 years ago with the objective of bringing together the different organisations operating in this field will soon open a home for retarded girls above the age of 14.

Although the premises for this special home are available, they still need about Rs. five lakhs, Connie Welikala, founder president of the CAMR said.

Before the home can take in the girls, it requires funds to pay the staff and buy equipment such as a refrigerator, a three burner gas cooker, crockery and sewing machines.

The home seeks to accommodate ten residential students, who will acquire skills which will help them to take care of themselves in day to day life. The girls will go home on vacation for about two weeks.

On the subject of mentally retarded children, Mrs. Welikala said she feels now there is a sense of acceptance and parents are not embarrassed about it, as they were some years ago.

CAMR organises workshops with psychiatrists, psychologists, and specialists in the field of social work to educate parents, and teachers on how best to handle retarded children.

Workshops are held at regular intervals bringing together workers in the field from all over Sri Lanka, allowing them the opportunity to exchange experiences and gain mutual insight.

Those interested in helping the home open its doors, are kindly requested to write in for further information or send cheques to The Hony. Treasurer, C.A.M.R., No. 147, Vajira Road, Colombo 5.

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