9-year-old Badal is a World Vision sponsored child in India. He is also a special needs student.
See how attending the World Vision center has helped him find a place where he is loved, accepted, and can be himself, and how he is thriving in that environment!
When 9-year-old sponsored child Badal enters the World Vision center in India, he stirs up a commotion in the group as his free-spirited nature invokes him to dance, expressing his love for the art form.
Undoubtedly the life of the group, Badal twirls and twists, entertaining onlookers, inducing jolts of laughter and cheer. Gradually approaching Badal, World Vision volunteer Vandana gently communicates the importance of starting the class on time. Badal quietly takes his designated place. Then, thunderous claps interrupt this moment of silence as Vandana declares game time.
Badal’s parents lived a humble life. Well acquainted with poverty, they mustered the strength to press on each day. Motivated by the news of his wife’s pregnancy, Badal’s father worked harder in order to meet the future needs of his kin. But their joy was short-lived as the couple lost their first child. After several miscarriages, a ray of hope beamed upon the family when Badal was carried to full term.
“Something went wrong with Badal,” says Badal’s aunt, Shamu. “The village didn’t have proper medical facilities, and in fear of losing another child, Badal’s father entrusted me with Badal’s responsibility. Just a few months old when I brought him to Delhi, Badal was very weak, vomiting all the time. The child could hardly sit up straight."
Waiting patiently at the doctor’s office, Shamu braced herself for the inevitable. Confirming her fears, the doctor revealed Badal’s condition.
"He said Badal’s brain was poorly developed and his nerves were damaged," she says.
Because he was intellectually challenged and physically impaired, the prospect of Badal living a normal life was unlikely. Shamu desperately tried to shield him from the stigmatization of an ignorant community.
"People say things that are hurtful to hear. They verbally abuse Badal and mock his physical condition. I try my best to provide a normal environment where he can grow, but the society does not let it happen," says Shamu.
Attempting to bring him a small sense of normalcy, Shamu pleaded with the teachers of the local government school to enroll Badal. After days of constant rejection, her prayers were finally answered. But attending school brought no respite from the torment that had plagued Badal since birth. Taking advantage of his vulnerability, children bullied and humiliated him, depriving him of the one thing he longed for: acceptance.
Often, children with special needs live in a confined environment, which prevents them from developing their social skills. But they still feel the need to be accepted and loved.
During game time at the World Vision center, Vandana encourages the children to pick a game of their choice. Either solving a puzzle or building a pyramid with blocks, the children dedicate themselves to overcoming their challenges.
Disrupting the class with a sudden outburst of energy, Badal yells, "Look, this is a mango!" as he displays his finished puzzle.
"It is important for children with special needs to have a space where they can be themselves and express their thoughts where they are not stigmatized. We have tried to create such a place,” says Vandana.
“Earlier, it was difficult to make them sit quietly together and do constructive exercises, as they had never learned discipline. But now, gradually, after coming here they are learning how to relate to one another, communicate with each other. Their personalities have changed. They have learned to adapt and mingle well with us. We have a weekly time focusing on acquiring skills like learning alphabets, drawing, and music. These children just need opportunities of equal participation in society and someone to channel their abilities positively."
One mother testifies: "Children love coming here because they feel loved and cared for. Here they find acceptance.”
As the morning approaches noon, Badal gets ready to leave. "It's my school time now," he says. Saying his goodbyes, he swiftly makes his way back home for a quick change.
"We have noticed changes in Badal since he started going to the center,” says Verinder, Badal’s cousin. “His understanding capacity has increased. He speaks more and shows his acting skills openly. If the World Vision center weren’t there, then his thinking ability wouldn’t have evolved so much. Now he goes and performs at many state and national level disability consultations, which is an opportunity he would never have gotten if he hadn't joined the center.”
Prim and proper, Badal emerges with his school bag. Patiently listening to his aunt’s instructions, Badal savors the final moments of closeness with his aunt, whom he has grown to call mother, before dashing off to school.
Grateful for Badal being part of the World Vision sponsorship program, Shamu says, "The only thing I desire for Badal is good education and that he is able to stand on his own two feet. Joining the center has done him good. The people at the center make sure he goes to school regularly. He is an energetic child and I am glad his energy is being focused on positive things."
Rigidly clasping the hand of a World Vision staff member, Badal glides through the slums with the calm assurance that he is not alone anymore; sponsorship is here to stay.
World Vision's child sponsorship program began in India in 1960. Join us in sharing love and support with children like Badal. Sponsor a child in India today!