“I am the one person who can take my family into a bright path,” says quiet Maheshwari, her lovely face very serious.
A tenth grade student now rigorously preparing for public examinations, she recounted her first days at Pathway ten years ago. Her mother brought her older sister, who had become mentally handicapped after suffering a high fever at age two, to Dr. Prasad. The sister was taken to the Chennai Center and Maheshwari was accepted into the Pamela Martinez Matriculation School.
Maheshwari expressed gratitude to Pathway for her opportunity for an education, for being taught English, and for the comfort and knowledge of truth which she has received. Her favorite subjects are math and science, and she would like to become a dentist if she can find the money for tuition. Lacking that, becoming a science teacher may be a more realizable goal.
What we can say about Ruby Ponniah, for those who knew Ruby, she was always referred as beautiful, spunky, meticulous, well dressed with matching sari and jewelry, and extremely pleasant. She use to always say to us “Don’t be so serious, life is too short, just have fun”.
She was a mine of energy, not many would believe that she would have this end. Alas! She was also a human as every one of us is. Ruby was associated with Pathway and its ministry from the past 26 years. She was a great source of strength. She used to take leadership in all events. As an ex magistrate she knew what was being just and kind. She was highly loving and giving.
She was loved by everybody at Pathway, and she received generous and lovely bouquets of words from angels who are serving and supporting Pathway. Judge Sheffield spoke to her in her hospital bed and conveyed his great love and affection. Jean- Luc was grateful that he was able to meet her during his recent visit in December. Bill and Barbara Benac conveyed their great love to her and sympathies to all at Pathway.. Alex Martinez conveyed his love and affection and conveyed his deep and touching thoughts. Gary Sabin conveyed his anguish at the loss, Eric Ottesen and the Sabin Children’s Foundation conveyed their deepest sympathies.
Many of the staff who had known Ruby conveyed their deep sense of loss and respects for the departed soul. There were many parents who spoke very warmly and recalled their association with Ruby. Dosdalls who served at Pathway recalled her goodness. Sudha conveyed her feelings and said how much she would miss Ruby at Pathway every day. Dhuli recalled of her association with Ruby with great affection. Chandra recalled her strong association with Ruby and her family from the past 26 years and described her close relationship with Ruby. Chetan conveyed his deep love and sense of loss, as he knew her from his childhood. Chandra described Ruby as a mother figure who had great love for Prasad. She said it would be impossible to fill this void.
Prasad recalled his long association with Ruby right from 1986. He described several times where Ruby was successfully associated with his efforts in building Pathway. He recalled the days of struggle and described their efforts to obtain the land at Thiruvanmiyur. He also nostalgically narrated how Ruby and he had worked together on several projects, such as Miseroer, etc. He quoted George S. Patton, Jr., “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men (women) who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.” Prasad said that Ruby had accomplished whatever she wanted to, she had lived a full life and she had no regrets whatsoever. He also quoted Helen Keller, ”The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, nor touched, but are felt in the heart.” Prasad said that presence of Ruby can always be felt in the heart, though we are not be able to touch her or hold her hands any more. He conveyed his great love and anguish over the loss, and how much he would miss her every day.
A highlight of Prasad’s recent trip to the U.S. was visiting Steve and Dixie Oveson, longtime supporters of Pathway. It was really delightful to meet Steve and Dixie Oveson at their beautiful mountainside bungalow at Provo, Utah .a few months ago, after more than a year. It was really great to recall the great association of Ovesons with Pathway that goes back to over two decades. Great friends of Judge William Sheffield, Steve Oveson first visited Pathway in 1991.He recollected fondly his travel along with Judge to Pathway’s rural centre for the disabled at Thirukazukundram, a tiny hamlet about 40 Kms away from Chennai. At the instance of Ministry of Welfare, Government of India, Pathway had established a full-fledged centre for rehabilitation and education of children with mental disability under the District Rehabilitation Schemes.
Steve and Dixie Oveson revisited a couple of more times, once for the dedication of Pathway’s new building at Chennai, where he had company of many important persons such as Hon. R Venkataraman, Former President of India, Hon K. Thagakabalu, Minister of State for Welfare, Government of India, President John K. Carmack, Area President, Asia, Judge William Sheffield and others. He revisited Pathway again to bless hundreds of children, along with President David Sorenson, Area President, Asia, Judge Sheffield and others. Ovesons have been highly loyal and great supporters of Pathway. Prasads conveyed their love and gratitude to them.
Dr. A D S N Prasad, Pathway’s founder and director, was honored at the recent 3-day National Convention of India Speech and Hearing Association, which met in Chennai from February 1 to February 3. The conference was attended by 1500 speech pathologists, audiologists, research scientists, clinicians, and teachers from India, as well as hundreds of other specialists and experts from all around the world. Dr. Prasad received the coveted and prestigious Professor Ramesh Oza Oration award and was presented with a silver plaque, a citation, and a shawl for his exceptional service to India’s disabled over the past three decades, the award was conferred on Prasad by Dr M Jayaram, President of Indian Speech and Hearing Association, former Director,the All India Institute of Speech & Hearing, Mysore and Professor and head, Dept of Speech Pathology, the National Institute of Mental Health & Neuro Sciences, Bangalore and Dr A Krishna, Professor of Audiology, Manipal Institute of Medical Sciences and secretary of ISHA.
In an hour-long speech to the assembly, Dr. Prasad described the challenges he has faced in his work, particularly initial hostilities from the community and financial difficulties. “Step by Step,” a video of Pathway’s outreach and ministry, was screened, after which Prasad acknowledged his wife Chandra’s sacrifice, Prasad paid glowing tributes to Judge William Sheffield and described his contribution in building Pathway and Judge’s help in serving the needy for over two decades. He dedicated this award to his wife Chandra who received standing ovation for her unstinted support, and he shared the honours with Judge William Sheffield He also shared the honour with Sudha and staff who work in the ‘ trenches’ everyday. He also mentioned his gratitude to his mentors and teachers, especially Dr. N Rathna, former director of the All India Institute of Speech and Hearing and the Ali Yuar Jung National Institute of Hearing Handicapped, as well as others dedicated to the cause.
The implementation of India’s constitution was celebrated 26 January in a three hour program with flags, patriotic song and dance, skits with children portraying great heroes of independence, and feasting.While India’s Independence Day celebrates its freedom from British rule, Republic Day celebrates the coming into force of its constitution. The main Republic Day celebration is held in the national capital, New Delhi, at the Rajpath before the President of India. Celebrations are also held with varying degrees of formality in state capitals, where the governor of the state unfurls the National Flag of India, explained Prasad in his address to the children. The nation celebrates Republic Day on 26th, January each year..
64th Republic day was celebrated this year with great pomp and gaiety at Pathway, Chennai. The staff and the children were busy right from 6 am. Each one of them was keen to give their best in arranging programme. There was feverish excitement in the children as many of the children were ready to present colourful programmes based on many topics. While Prasanna was dressed up as a patriot struggling for the country’s independence, Vaidyanathan was dressed up as a soldier who was taking orders from the British. All the children were dressed up in various costumes and were rearing to get on to the stage. Beena was dressed up as Mother India, Divya and many other girls were dressed up in their white and colourful chiffons ready to dance to the patriotic tunes selected for the occasion. Teachers were busy with the final arrangements. As the children assembled and were called to attention. Sudha was requested to unfurl the national flag. With this the children, staff and everyone assembled sang the national anthem in unison. As everybody sang the national anthem there was a great moment of emotion which made every Indian proud of their country. This was followed by a grand variety entertainment presented by the children well choreographed by the special educators and others of Pathway. Children dressed as Gandhi, Nehru, Subash Chandra Bose, Tilak and other great patriots passed by, drawing resounding claps from all assembled. The grand moment was stolen by a colourful and beautifully made dance by the children which depicted all states of India in its true regalia and décor. Each of the boys and girls in the dance represented different states of India, from north to south, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. They were all dressed up in choicest dresses from the region they represented. They all danced to a melodious song which spoke of national integration and love for the country, culminating in praising and offering obeisance to Mother India. The event came to close with distribution of sweets.
The Republic day celebration at the Pathway Agro Farm for Children was a highly colourful feat this season. The grand displays of talent by the children of the Pamela Martinez Matriculation School and Orphanage and children and adolescents of the Sabin Centre for Education and Rehabilitation of Disabled were eye catching and awesome. Over 226 children of the Pamela Martinez Matriculation School and Orphanage were seen to be rehearsing for this big day for almost a fortnight. They had prepared a long programme of nearly two hours to be presented on the eve of the Republic Day. Similarly boys and girls of the Sabin Centre were also seen to be practicing many programmes which they were planning to showcase on the D Day.
On this special day the flag mast was well decorated with colourful paper and the entire area was decorated with colourful buntings and tiny flags. Every child was found to sporting with a small Indian Flag that was affixed on the lapel of their shirts.All the staff and all invitees were encouraged to affix such flags. The entire show was very well choreographed and organized to the minute detail.
The show started with an impressive march past by nearly 300 children comprising of able and disabled children of the Farm. They marched with precision driven by a rhythmic band that was played by two senior boys. All the children in their neatly pressed clothes and neat footwear marched perfectly and went past the saluting base and the Flag mast where Director Prasad was present with the principal to take the salute. Each class lead by its leader marched past the saluting base in perfection saluting the flag with reverence. The march past culminated in orderly assembly of all children in their slots and with this the day was set to unfurl the national flag. Prasad was asked to unfurl the tri-colour by the principal and the leader of the school. As he flag was unfurled there was copious sprinkling of petals of roses, jasmines and various flowers showered on Prasad and others. This signaled the singing of national anthem which was rendered with great poise and decorum.
The children of the Pamela Martinez Matriculation School and Orphanage presented a huge variety of programmes consisting of fancy dress, that is, children dressed up like national leaders who were responsible to gain independence for our country. They were dressed up beautifully and gave a short speech on the struggle of those days against the British rule. It was truly enjoyable. Boys and girls regaled the audience with humor and wit with their presentation of skits and dramas in English and Tamil. It was highly satisfying to see the some of them giving faultless and immaculate speeches in English and Tamil on India’s Republic Day. The entire show was full of great educational value and truly delightful. The songs and dances presented by the children were particularly spectacular and grand.
The children with special needs from the Sabin Centre for Education and Rehabilitation of Disabled did not lag behind in any sphere. They showcased highly enjoyable and loveable programmes comprising of songs and dances with the theme of patriotism. The skit featuring dancers from different states
After nearly three hours of entertainment and joy, all the children, staff and invitees were treated to grand feast.