At the "Walk for Autism 2012"-cum-Charity Fair organized by Kanner Association Melaka, Tzu Chi volunteers were on hand to lend support to the mentally-challenged children, as well as, set up recycling bins to promote the concept of environmental protection to the public.
In this beautiful Planet Earth, there is this group of children who seem to live in their own confined world; and that is because they were born with a disability known as "Autism/Kanner's Syndrome".
In 1943, Dr Kanner from the United States was the first to discover autism, also known as Kanner's Syndrome. Autism is defined as a Bio-Neurological Disorder that can be detected in early childhood with symptoms of abnormal self-absorption, characterized by lack of response towards other humans; and has limited ability in communicating or socializing.
"Kanner Children Centre" in Taman Merbuk Ria, Melaka, is an NGO established by parents of autistic children. Currently providing special education to more than 10 autistic children, the Centre intends to raise funds to set up a "Sensory" and a "Multimedia" classroom.
As April is "World Autism Month", the Centre had organized a series of activities with the theme "Love specially dedicated to a special you". They included talks, the launch of a booklet entitled, "Me and My Autistic Child", and a "Walk for Autism"-cum-Charity Fair.
Mother overjoyed with floral gift
On April 29, 2012, the "Walk for Autism" event started as early as 7 am. The 600 participants, comprising of individuals from various age groups and backgrounds, first gathered at the Taman Merbuk Ria playground for the morning aerobics. After the welcoming ceremony, the Organizing Committee led everyone to complete the 1.4 km charity walk.
Following the above event, the children put up a lively stage performance to entertain their parents, who will now treasure their "special gifts" from Heaven more than ever. Besides the stage performance, there was also a Charity Fair.
"Nobody wishes to be parents of an autistic child. Twelve years ago, when I first discovered my child was autistic, I felt so helpless and lonely. Luckily, thanks to the support given by other parents in similar situation, I managed to get over it. That is why I wish to help these special kids," said Huang Yu Huan. Based on her own experience, she offers help and counseling to other families with autistic children.
Yu Huan left her much loved job in the teaching profession to become a housewife to care for her autistic child. She realized she had made the right decision when she received encouraging support and effort from everyone. With more than 10 years of experience in taking care of an autistic child, Yu Huan felt that a combination of medical attention and parents' love, care and patience are the most important factors in helping such kids.
"When the night is quiet, I can hear the voice from the heart, thanking daddy and mommy; I love you all..." These were part of the lyrics of a song, which touched the hearts of everyone present. Led by Tzu Chi volunteers, a 7-year old kid presented a stalk of carnation to his mother, Dong Chang, whose eyes turned teary instantly.
Dong Chang revealed, "I need to spend a lot of time and effort to take care of him. Outwardly, one can't notice anything wrong with him. But, it's very difficult to control him." Initially Dong Chang had difficulties coping with her child's very unpredictable behaviour, especially when he is angry. Later the doctor explained to her that such behaviour was due to a sensory disorder in the child's brain which made it difficult for him to transmit his thoughts. Despite all the heartaches, Dong Chang is trying her best to care for her child, whom she hopes could blend in with society.
She grinned when she said, "I know it was not the child's idea to present me with the flowers. I thank the volunteers for being so thoughtful in creating such a conducive environmental to guide him. I was indeed very happy to receive the flowers."
Saving the world through recycling
The response to this mini Charity Fair was very good. Other than healthy vegetarian food, many other items were on sale. Tzu Chi volunteers could be seen busily collecting recyclables and explaining to the public the way to sort out resources and care for the environment.
"Actually the root cause of autism is not genetic but is related to the environment. The number of autistic cases is on the rise. Previously in the United States, 1 out of 150 children was autistic. But statistics for the last 3 years have shown that the figure has gone up to 1 out of 80 children," said Advisor of Kanner Association Melaka, Dr Yu Guo Hua.
Lim Thian Shong, Organizing Chairman of the charity walk, said, "The world is in a mess. That is why we are all invited to help promote environmental protection. Hopefully we can all work towards preserving a better and healthy Earth for our children."
"All of us have a common wish to live happily; and no matter where you stand, the moment you look up you see the same Sun. We are all children of the Earth, blessed with different stories. Some may be tall; some may be short. We shall lend our hands to whoever needs our help. Let us all hold our hands together and sing…" This "Children of the Earth" song depicts the wishes of these children. We shall all endeavor to take good care of the Earth so that our children will have a clean world to live in.
Tzu Chi volunteers promoting environmental protection and recycling.【Photograph by Tan Lian Hee】
Products of Da Ai Technology on display. Members of the public are impressed with Tzu Chi's effort in giving a new lease of life to resources.【Photograph by Tan Lian Hee】
Cai Dong Chang expressed thanks to Tzu Chi volunteers for their effort in guiding her child. She was very touched when she received the flower from her child.【Photograph by Lee Szee Lei】
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