A Home for God’s Special Children
Iris C F Gomes
We live in a society that still has a hard time accepting physical or mental disability. Unfortunately it is part and parcel of a lot of people’s lives. Fr Valmiki Dias started Daddy’s Home in Margao as a result of a chance encounter with a child with Down syndrome who was wandering aimlessly. The tremendous compassion that Fr Valmiki felt for this child has translated into a house of succour to many others with disabilities. Daddy’s Home is fittingly named for God-the Father, whose arms embrace all, especially the most helpless and disadvantaged.
The home was founded in 1989, initially without a permanent location but eventually finding permanent residence in Gogol, Margao. Daddy’s Home, which is part of the Daddy’s Home Charitable Trust, is a haven for children from the ages of 3 ½ to adults in their 50s. There are 11 classes from pre-primary to vocational training, and these are designed to cater to specific conditions. You will find children with autism, dyslexia, and cerebral palsy as well as deaf students who have some amount of hearing ability. The ratio of teacher to students in 1:4 or 1:11 depending on the learning ability of the students.
Some students who are without serious disorders but cannot cope with the pace of mainstream schools are given enough attention and tutoring to allow them to enrol in open school when they are deemed capable of doing so. Other students who will never progress beyond a limit intellectually or scholastically are given practical training that will allow them to function more efficiently in their day-to-day life. Examples include learning letters in connection with their names and numbers in connection with phone numbers, and acquiring the ability to handle money and manage time. Occupational therapy that will help the differently-abled children to modify behaviour and gain living and work skills is imparted. Vocational training in areas such as needlework, baking, catering, plumbing, mechanics, and housekeeping is extended to make sure they are equipped to support themselves financially.
Students have access to computer classes, art and craft, music, dance, drama, yoga, and sports too so that they have well-rounded development. There is counselling available for students and parents.
Fr Valmiki Dias stresses on early intervention by admitted children when they are younger since it is easier to create a firm base for training. If they are older, the students need to be moderately functionally trained. At present there are over a hundred students with 11 teachers, a counsellor, a physiotherapist, and a speech therapist. Daddy’s Home also has a volunteer programme that invites people to help out with activities and learning processes.
Specialised residential services are provided to those who are ten years and above with provision for respite care, short-term or long-term care. There are separate dormitories for males and females. The dormitories are monitored with CCTV cameras and have a warden each for supervision. The residents are taught to be responsible for looking after their rooms and belongings. There is also a dining room, a kitchen, a prayer room, a recreation room, a library, a garden, a physiotherapy unit, a counselling room, an auditorium, a swimming pool that allows for physiotherapy and swimming, and a special kitchen for bakery and catering students.
The students have an annual day where they showcase their talents for their parents and the community. They also have field trips, camps, picnics, Christmas celebrations etc. People from the community celebrate their birthdays or their children’s birthdays with the differently abled at Daddy’s Home.
A new project that will create a safe and happy space for elderly differently abled and mentally challenged individuals is in the works. The new wing of the Home is to have single/double rooms, independent AC and non-AC rooms, dormitories (for gents and ladies), a recreation room with table-tennis, carrom, pool-table, chess, cards-table, etc, a medical room, a dining hall, a library, a gymnasium, a prayer hall, a counselling room, guest rooms, a laundry room, a kitchen, a large courtyard, sit-outs, walking tracks, a fishing pond, and Wifi connectivity. The project requires funds, and donations are welcome. The estimated cost is available using this link http://daddyshome.in/the-grown-up-elderly/estimated-cost-of-construction/.
The Home functions largely on generous donations and the sale of items such as cards, cakes, sweets, etc made by the students. Individuals are invited to donate and corporate houses are welcomed to include the Home in their CSR policy. It takes about Rs 2000 per month to sponsor a child, inclusive of hostel facilities. Donations from India are accepted and will be acknowledged with a receipt and a tax rebate under Section 80G. The Home cannot receive donations from overseas without the permission from Home Department.
Here is your chance to make a difference in the lives of God’s special children by either donating money or volunteering your skills and time to enrich their lives.
Daddy’s Home – For the Elderly
Bank - Bank of India
A/C No - 100610210000006
IFSC Code - BK1D0001006
Branch - Margao
Daddy’s Home – For the Children
Bank - Kotak Mahindra Bank
A/C No - 517010022321
IFSC Code - KKBK0002496
Branch - Comba, Margao-Goa.
*All photographs from the Daddy's Home website and Facebook page.