`Service to humanity is service to God’ has been the motto practiced in letter and spirit by the Bethany Congregation of Sisters (nuns) attached to the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church for running the MGM Bethany Santhi Bhavan, a unique special school for the mentally challenged children at Kadamankulam near Kallooppara since the past 12 years.

These nuns have proved that the disabled are differently abled, making this special school a model to the rest of the State.

``Here, we look after the mentally challenged children, giving them, love, care, protection, education and vocational training. We give more thrust on making these disabled children self-reliant in doing their daily routine or rather live independently to the maximum extent possible,’’ says Sr Mercilit the visionary school principal.

The institution that had a humble beginning in 1999 in memory of the former Archbishop of Thiruvananthapuram, Benedict Mar Gregorios has come a long way to become a unique special school of its kind in the whole State.

The school situated in four acres of land in the typical Kerala rural settings caters to the needs of the rural poor as well as the semi-urban families in Central Travancore.

As many as 88 ``differently abled children’’, 26 boy s and 62 girls, are studying at the school and 45 of them stays at the school boarding. A well-wisher of the school has arranged transport facility for children from the nearby areas of Kizhvaipur, Kavoyur, Mallappally, Murani, Marickal, etc, says Sr Mercilit.

Students are placed in pre-primary, primary, secondary, pre-vocational and vocational classes on the basis of their age and intellectual standard. Students in the age group of four years to 32 years are presently studying at Bethany Santhi Bhavan.

The classes begin with an assembly and we give training in yoga, dance, music and sports, besides physiotherapy and speech therapy, says Sr Mercilit.

According to her, 39 of the 88 students at the school belong to low-income group whose parents are either home maids or farm workers and the institution never accept any fee from them.

Sensory room

The sensory room set up by the Rotary Club of Thiruvalla at international standards is a major attraction at the new school building.

Mr Varghese Thomas Kalaikattil, Rotary Club president, has initiated the project after visiting similar schools in different parts of United Kingdom.

The world class sensory room has been set up in association with the Rotary Club of Workshop Nottinghamshire in UK.

The school has got a well-trained band set. Students above the age of 17 years are given vocational training in candle making, painting, flower making, mat making, soap and soap powder making.

Children suffering from ottism, down syndrome, upward syndrome and different types of mental retardation are studying at the school. Sr Sandra, Sr Manojna, both training teachers and Maria Gorethi, superior of the convent, assist Sr Mercilit in running the school.