Party in town: Alliance Francaise hosts playdate for 130 AURA students

Children suffering from cerebral palsy gathered during the morning picnic organised by NGO.

Al Umeed Rehabilitation Association organised a fun day in the sun for children suffering from cerebral palsy, at Alliance Francaise de Karachi on Tuesday. PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS


On Tuesday morning, the lush gardens of Alliance Francaise hosted several happy children, who played, relaxed on their mattresses and swayed their heads to the sound of music.

A morning picnic was arranged on the premises for children suffering from cerebral palsy, a group of neurological disorders that affect body movements and muscle coordination.

An NGO, Al Umeed Rehabilitation Association (Aura), which helps rehabilitate, educate and treat these "differently-abled" children, brought 130 children for a playdate.

"With the tense situation in the city and the crime rate going up, we can't take them outside," said Aura chairperson Aban Jamall, adding that such activities give the children an opportunity to enjoy themselves.

Three children - Kashif Saleem, Ali Akbar and Muhammad Saqib - chuckled as they passed a ball to each other. One of them replied cricket, when asked what they wanted to do at the picnic. Their teacher, who joked and played with them, calls them geniuses.

"They have won the second prize in an art exhibition in which 35 schools had participated. They drew monkeys and other animals," she said, as the boys smiled shyly.

The organisation, formed in 1989, also educates street and underprivileged children. One of them, Sehrish, sang nursery rhymes, such as 'Are you sleeping?' Around her, children in wheelchairs played and tried to sing along. "I am having fun," said the eight-year-old as she continued singing. National songs, such as Dil Dil Pakistan, were also sung as a woman played a piano.

Jamall does not want the children to be called disabled. "Please use ‘differently-abled’. I don't find them disabled." She believes that they are just as talented as normal children. "They have normal IQ. Only physically, they are different."

She went on to say that the children with cerebral palsy have completed O'Levels. Pointing towards Sarah, who was in a wheelchair, Jamall said that she is always smiling and is very good with computers.

At one corner, some street children sat in a group with the special children and played catch. "These children take care of those with special needs. They are caring and friendly. They don't treat them differently," said one teacher.

After a round of games and singing, lunch was served to the children, as goody bags with colouring books and glitter party hats were handed out.

“These children are self -sufficient, able to feed themselves, and our aim is to make them independent so that they are not a burden on their families," Jamall added.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 2nd, 2014.


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