On Thursday morning, the special students of Chethana Child Development Centre of Kodialbail excitedly waited for birthday celebrations to begin. But it was nobody’s birthday. Rather, it was “everybody’s birthday” that was being celebrated.

M.V. Shenoy, Trustee, Chethana Child Development Centre, said the school had decided it would celebrate everyone’s birthday at the same time, including those who did not remember their birthday. Thursday was chosen for the celebrations as it was the last working day of the current academic year, he said. The students sat quietly for more than an hour before the activities began. There were smiles on some of their faces as an “aarathi” was performed for each of them, followed by gifts and sweets. The icebreaking happened as soon as the magic show began, with whoops and applause. All the tricks had the children enthralled, beginning with the juggling of hoops.

They were amused when one of their batchmates was called on the stage; the trick that had them all tickled was one where the magician appeared to be pulling out coins from the head, ears and nose of the batchmate.

Meera Prabhu, a resident of Aasare, the senior citizen home in Chetana, said she requested everyone’s cooperation to get a better life for the special students of Chetana. She appreciated the work of those who worked at the school and said they were “true devotees of god”.

Vinod Shenoy, Manager, Chethana Child Development Centre, said organising the event was hassle free and like any other working day for the staff. Mr. Shenoy said the institution faced “multiple challenges”. He said, “The main problem is that there are no funds from the government.” The institution, which has 64 students (children and adults), is managing with funds from donors, he said.