Kiran Centre, Varanasi, India.
We were invited to visit the Kiran Centre for Integrated Education, Training & Rehabilitation of the Differently Abled People (www.kiranvillage.org) about one hour outside Varanasi. This oasis-like campus is run by kindhearted Sangeeta JK, a nurse who came to India from Switzerland in the 1970s and has worked with Mother Theresa. As the name suggests, Kiran caters to children who suffer from a variety of “different” abilities, including Polio, Cerebral Palsy and Down’s Syndrome. We arrived in time for the school’s morning puja, or prayer session. Heather lasted about 4 minutes before she broke down crying; she had been touched to tears by the offers of their chairs by some of the differently-abled students who required crutches to stand and walk.
Not only does the school teach basic subjects, but also offers vocational-type training (baking, sewing, agriculture, building), an on-site orthotics factory and physical therapy. The school is doing great things and we found it inspiring.