By PATRICK MON Cullan Service – Mingende (Simbu).
Imagine being born blind and never knowing what was around you.
Your parents are busy, so you often end up staying in the dark house by yourself, alone, and under-stimulated. You miss growing up with the other children, playing, experiencing new sounds, tastes, places, feelings, and people. Your thinking does not develop, nor the way you socialize with other people. No one understands you. You become disabled and handicapped in your society.
This is the situation for many of the children and teenagers who attended a two week “Blind Camp” at the Callan Services Resource Centre at Mingende, Simbu from November 16-27, 2009. Nine children, ranging in age from 3 to 18 years old, attended with their parents for the intensive time of stimulation activities, play, music, self-care skills, orientation and mobility, Braille, and much more.
Callan Services staff teacher, Ms. Angela Mua said the objectives of the “camp” were to develop positive attitudes and behaviors, and to assist the children to live meaningfully in their own communities. Much of the program also involved the parents, as their attitudes towards their children were essential in helping their children to become independent.
“Blindness affects how a child develops,” Mua continues, “and without proper stimulation and socialization, can lead to many other secondary disabilities. We’re trying to prevent the children from this situation.”
One parent explained: “Planti taim mipela papamama i ting i nogat hop bilong kain pikinini bilong mipela, tasol nau tru skul na wok hat bilong ol Callan staff long dispela bung i helpim miplea olgeta na senisim tingting bilong mipela.” (Many times as parents we felt there was no hope for our children, but now through this camp, we can see our children have potential to do many things; it has changed our thinking.)
Although it was an intense and often exhausting two weeks, the Callan Services staff hopes the camp becomes an annual program. “The children responded so well, it was worth all the effort!”
Callan Services for Persons with a Disability at Mingende, Simbu is part of the Callan Services National network of Catholic diocese owned programmes around the country, in 16 provinces. Most programmes work to assist persons with all types of disabilities to become more independent, have access of all opportunities, and enjoy equal rights within their own communities. Persons wishing for more information can contact their local Catholic diocese regarding a Callan Services Resource centre in their province.