A Home to Call Their Own

(Article from New Straits Times)
Success Stories

For the children of Pusat Kanak-Kanak Terencat Akal Bahagia (Happiness Centre) in Melaka,

hope lies in the people who give their time and energy to make their world livable. Sarah Sabaratnam writes to commemorate the international day for the Disabled persons which falls on Dec 3

Most men dream of untold riches, status and recognition.

Then there are those who aspire for that European car or simply for a house to call home and of starting a family. Some just want to be loved and accepted. Off the face of it, dreams and aspirations may differ in specifics from person to person. But most men have one thing in common. They dream for themselves.

Roy Collar dreamed differently. He dreamed of a place which unwanted mentally disabled children could call home. He wished them a shelter and a better quality of life. Most of all, he hoped he could help improve their physical impairments.

This man followed his dream in the face of adversity, opening the home in July of 2000, with no money but lots of “faith and support from family and friends.” The home now houses 30 residents, most of whom have multiple paralysis ranging from cerebral palsy, polio, paralysis of the lower limbs, paralysis of one-half of body, speech impairment, blindness and mental disorders. They can’t talk, they can’t do anything for themselves. The children are those who have been refused admission to other welfare homes and institutions because they are bedridden and thus unable to acquire any skills. They are from poor backgrounds or broken homes. Most of them have been abandoned. None can contribute a monthly fee, which this Centre does not charge. The most dejected of society. Nobody wants them. Happiness Centre takes them in. Despite having no source of income, the staff of this Centre strive to give the children the best. A priority is that the children are always well fed, clean and in great health. “Most of all we try to shower them with lots of love” reads a statement in the Centre’s brochure. Of course love has no price, but to give them everything else, the Centre has had to go out almost every day to ask for money and create awareness or they would not be able to manage.

The situation is very desperate, the founder says, “We are still surviving day to day”. Expenses have increased, as in addition to the seven staff, and 2 part-timers, and a physiotherapist. The staff work in shift as these special ones need 24 hour supervision, and the residents cannot do most things on their own. Bathing is 2 times a day, changing of diapers is 5 times a day, feeding them is 5 times a day. Despite all the constraints the management believes in doing everything possible to improve their lives. “We have no choice, we want to go ahead because the children need it. We hope to buy physiotherapy equipment so that they would be getting the proper exercises on a daily basis”

The caring public, family and friends have boosted our morale and one organization that has been very consistent is the ladies from Manza ( Malaysian Australian New Zealand association.  Bernice Atley, its then vice president said Manza decided to support the home after reading about it in the New Straits Times early this year. “We visited the home. You know, I’ve worked with physically disabled children before and I’ve seen anything this well run” There are so many worthy causes out there but none as well run as this. They deserve everybody’s support.” Roy and Nancy have done so much for the children and we can see how happy they all are” Atley says they are happy to support the home because Roy and Nancy really does wonders with every cent he is given”

All we want to do is give them the best. When we can’t, it is really heartbreaking and disappointing but we try to persevere. Such steadfast tireless devotion. One man’s dream to follow through despite the odds.