Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Seri Mengasih - A Centre For The Special-Needs

Seri Mengasih Centre is a special developmental center for these intellectually disable children.
The aim of the center is to train and educate these children whose special needs are unable to be met by the conventional mainstream schools.

When we found out 21 years ago that Keshia has a condition called Down Syndrome, we didn't have an inkling what that meant except that she would be disabled. We were devastated when the doctor attending to her gave us a very grim and bleak outlook of her future telling us that she might not be able to walk or talk. I cried buckets for weeks out of despair and hopelessness thinking that there was nothing I could do for my baby. I thank God for my husband who was able to balance off my hysteria with his calmness, steadiness and acceptance when told of Keshia's condition. He cared for her no differently from our other children except maybe with even more tenderness. Until today I have never heard him raise his voice to her.
It took a long while but I eventually got out of the nightmare and came to my senses. I did what every mother would have done - sat up, assessed the situation and refused to give up hope. I combed through books in the libraries in town (no Internet then) and found out as much as I could about this condition. What I found was hope. 
I learned that down syndrome children do learn to walk, talk and capable of much, much more. The one most important thing I learned from these old dusty library books was EIP (Early Intervention Program). That is, to give my daughter a head start in learning, to teach her systematically as young as possible. I realized then I needed professional help. Went through some kindergartens and schools but none would take a child with her condition that young (she was about 2 then). Someone mentioned the welfare department might have something. They didn't but suggested I look up a school in Tanjong Aru which might be able to help my child. They gave me the address of this centre called Seri Mengasih and it changed the course of our lives.
At the centre, I knew instintively that I have found the right place for my daughter. The centre was just starting a pre-school unit for early intervention program that year and that was exactly what we were looking for. God's hand had brought us there at just the right time!

Today, Keshia speaks, reads and writes Bahasa and English. She trained at the school's bakery for 2 years in the vocational department of the school which also comprises of a paper recycling and a souvenir-making section for students 18 and  above. The bakery supplies mini suasage buns, egg tarts and doughnuts to other schools and kindergartens. 
Presently, Keshia is doing training in one of the outlets of Southern, a bakery in town. 
Making paper from recyclable materials by students from the Seri Mengasih Centre .

The recycled paper produced in the vocational department being transformed into a card with special message by another student. Many of these cards are sold in souvenir stores in leading hotels and shopping malls.  

Washing up time for the student in the bakery.

This centre started off in a changing room in the Likas Sport with a few fiercely dedicated staff more than 25 years ago. Until today, many of these pioneer staffs are still working selflessly in the school.
Today they have the use of two old government buildings at the Tanjong Aru third beach but for how long, that is anyone guess. 
This centre is a non-profit organization. Operations of the centre relies very heavily on volunteers and on funds received from public contributions and donation. There are about 130+ full time students and it takes more than RM5,000 a year to train a student as almost every student's learning program has to be tailored to suit him/her ability. With increasing enrollment each year, cost of running the centre is expected to go up. Fund raising has to be done yearly to keep the centre afloat and operating.
The centre holds a food fair once in two years at its premises. The main aim of this exercise is of course, to raise funds but just as important, is to raise public awareness in our society about the plight of these special children.

This year's food fair 'Pesta Mengasih' is to be held on the 15th June (Sunday) from 8am to 2pm at the centre.   
Do come with family and friends and join in a day of good fun with lots of good food (Malay, chinese, Japanese, Indian, Filipino, Indonesian and Western cuisine plus loads of cakes, pastries, kueh mueh, cookies and ice-cream), live band entertainment, magic show, lucky draw, clowns and games. 

Coupons are now available for sale at the centre. 

Any form of help is welcome; your time, skills, cash donation or just the awareness that this school is available for children that need it. 
With a big heart, give of yourself to this worthy cause. Help to make a difference to the lives of these children. 
Thank you for taking the time to read this acticle and please, please do something, anything to support the centre to help raise the hope for these children and their family.

You can contact the centre for any enquiries:
Address: PWD 75, Jalan Selangor (3rd beach)
                 88100 Kota Kinabalu

Tel no.   : 088-223221 / 014-6793221 

Email     :


Starr said...

To Keshia: I miss your YUMMY donuts!!!

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

i rmber those early days. both u n K r wonderful wonderful parents to all ur kids, n keshia is very blessed too to have parents who guided her into what she is today--sweet, caring and very meticulous, dedicated n well-disciplined in her chores. i rmber seeing her tie her shoelaces when she was very very young--4?--n my own child who was older couldn't tie her own shoelaces bc i never let her. tt was an eye opener for me, to let my kid learn n do things for herself. i have learnt frm u.

will be at the fair, as usual :)

daisyfused said...

i miss this...

i'll try and be home, k?

hugs and love mi.

a feast, everyday said...

Tq starr, come to kk again and will make for u.

terri, it's so heartwarming to hear tt u actually learn frm me. i rmber somebody said i was cruel to let keshia do things for herself. i felt so guilty n doubtful after tt for a long while. made so many mistakes n still learning frm them.
See u at the fair, hope vera be back then so u can make lots of goodies (fruits mochi jadi or not???)

df, make sure u r home, need all the help we can get.

Joan said...

Oh my goodness. I remember you said something abt having your own blog, but what a wonderful surprise! I was googling Seri Mengasih and found you! Very very nice! Can I spread the word around to other parents, so this becomes a real great kopitiam to yak and munch at the same time, and not just about disability and such. Joan :-p