Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Hong Chi Kids with Special Needs

On Christmas Eve, a group of about 20 PolyU professors and students went to Hong Chi PineHill Special School at Taipo again to organise a Christmas Party for them. This was the second year that we had done it, and we had more students participating this time.

More than 20 kids from the special school came to our party. About half of them teenagers with mild special needs. They live in small houses, eight in one house supervised by a house parent. During they day they attend secondary school, and return to Pinehill after school. Most of them are slower than other kids in development, but can generally take care of themselves. They are very warm towards visitors, and treat you like an old friend right-away. It seems friendship is their greatest need.

They are very straightforward. Once a social worker was discussing differences among people with them. She asked why they thought she would not be able to become an airplane stewardess - expecting them to say “you are too short”, “you are too old”, etc. But one of them blurted out “you are too ugly” without thinking. They are really guileless.

Another half of them were pre-school kids with severe disabilities. One little boy’s hands were gloved with mittens. I thought perhaps it was to prevent him from scratching himself. It turned out his eyesight was so poor that his range of vision was only a few inches. You have to touch him in order for him to know your presence. Perhaps partly for this reason he liked to put his hands into his mouth - so deep that he puked! So his care takers tried to wean him from this habit by gloving and even tying up his hands. When you touch his face to let him know you there, and massage is shoulders, he calms down and makes faces.

Another very young kid just stared into distance, motionlessly in her wheelchair - she was paralysed from the neck down. Apparently she could hear but simply could not respond. Another girl could not talk but smiled broadly when you talk to her.

Certainly these kids can be happy in their own world, in their own way. What they crave the most seem to be human touch and friendship. Their care takers are very caring. But there are just too few of them and the needs of these kids are just too great.

I am sure God loves them as much as you and I. How can our hearts not go out to them, to want to touch them, to want to put a smile on their faces? Particularly for those of us who have experienced God's love? In fact we are all made in God's image. We all have God's love in us, haven't we?

I would like to think this is really the spirit of Christmas.

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