There was joy and excitement in the air as children waited with great expectation, the wait ended quickly as they assembled to witness fireworks and it was thrilling to see the beaming faces and hear to the crescendo of their cheers, as they started lighting large and small fireworks.
Our patrons find our adult mentally handicap workers most sincere in furnishing their homes in style and in an unbelievably short time. We have been receiving appreciation letters that Pathway furniture is superbly well-finished, built to last and made available in a variety of styles. Articles manufactured include single and double cots, wardrobes, chest of drawers, bookshelves, ready-to-assemble furniture made to order, and educational-recreational toys. In addition to furnishing homes, activities around crafting wooden articles lend themselves to the general development of the body and mind.
The quality of every piece of board and other wood and accessories are carefully controlled from the beginning of the work instilling thoughtfulness. In fact, our boys can articulate a dream for your home the instant they look at a lovely piece of timber and feel its touch. “Oh, this would be perfect for making a shelf for keeping all the picture books we saw in so-&-so’s home”, they would exclaim, and then want us to get into touch with that so-&-so to offer our services. “It would be a pity to leave all those treasures of knowledge improperly heaped in various corners of the house, and a shelf is a must, from Pathway”.
And so we procure the esteemed order, which we proceed to make, with love. The task imbues our carpenter boys with a sense of accomplishment and a taste of excellence, and lights up joyful smiles on all the faces in Pathway as they pray for their benefactor, who will soon be placing further orders for many other items of furniture for himself and his friends. Further, our customer-friends who share our enthusiasm for this vocation and they keep sending us valuable old issues of fashion magazines containing drawings for home furniture items.
Our boys assiduously study them and evolve their own combinations of colors and forms for individual requirements and tastes. Matters like making the wood totally termite-resistant and water-resistant are within our technical competence. If you happen to watch our boys at work you will be tremendously impressed by the dedicated concentration with which they adapt their designs to the room contours and dimensions and decor of the house of their beloved customer. In short, the vocation is now fully integrated and has come of age, and set to compete on its own strength with the best in the market. Recently they have come up with yet another wonderful new idea- to produce a rocking horse.
Incidentally, a well-regarded lesson during World War II brought us additional perspective about this latest idea. Eric Williams was one among many English prisoners who tells us this story from his time at the well-guarded Stalag Luft prison. Something similar to the story of the Trojan Horse. Eric and his friends built a vaulting horse four feet six inches high with sides covered by plywood sheets collected from Red Cross packing cases. They practiced vaulting, duping their grim German guards into believing that they were merely exercising. And they made a secret tunnel connecting to the hollow horse and finally made a daring escape while keeping the Germans under the impression that they were only jumping for fun.
Perhaps the significance of creating Pathway rocking horses, would afford a similar escape for our boys from their difficult pasts.
The children of Pathway and the Sabin Center for the Disabled have done it again!! This time they won the state golden cup for the best all-around performance in several areas. Punnagai is a state-wide event organized by the Rotary International. They invite children from all over the state for competition which can be quite tough. The children were challenged to perform and demonstrate their abilities in artistic areas, such as water colour, oil painting, and creating of “Rangoli,” a traditional Indian colourful rendering in front of all traditional houses. There was also competition in music and in other areas. Our children proved that their disabilities were not handicaps. Their performance won them individual medals and a large cup which their received with great pride.
Jothi is a promising tenth grade student who usually has a twinkle in her eye. Enthusiastic and lively, Jothi has become one of the organizers and teachers of the younger children in their weekly meetings. She is a friendly young lady who often helps other classmates with homework and communication, as well as being quick in learning piano. Coming from a large family, Jothi has had two sisters and two brothers also attending Pathway.
I had wanted to go to India ever since I learned about the culture when I was in junior high school. After I graduated from high school, the timing just didn’t seem right and things always seemed to get in the way. Finally, this year, I decided I was going to make my dream of going to India a reality. I looked up many organizations and couldn’t find one that I felt was right for me, but then I heard about Pathway. I was immediately interested in Pathway because of what they do for people with disabilities, and I had an overwhelming feeling that I should volunteer with Pathway when I went to India. I could have gone to India to stay in fancy hotels, eat at nice restaurants, and see the sites, but I really don’t think I would have seen the real India that way. We still ate well and had a couple of days to sightsee and shop in Chennai, but the majority of my time was spent serving those who have much less than I do. Even though I enjoyed playing with the kids, learning more about the culture, and teaching classes, I feel that my interactions with the people was my favorite part.
Our village visits were a major highlight of my trip because I was able to see how truly happy people can be without much of anything as far as big homes or worldly possessions. These people who lived in huts made out of coconut leaves treated us with extreme kindness and showed true happiness. While I’ve always known I don’t need everything I want to be happy, it really showed me that people can be happy in even the poorest of circumstances. The children at Pathway showed similar characteristics to those people in the villages. These children don’t have families that they can go home to every night, yet they showed me more love than any other child I’ve met. If we were spending time with the kids, whether on the playground or in the halls, it was rare that my hands weren’t being held by at least one of the kids. I also realize that these kids don’t have a lot of their own belongings; yet a few made me bracelets and wrote me really kind notes. I just loved that these kids who had so little gave what they could to show affection and gratitude.
Erica had the idea of handing out slips of paper so the kids could ask questions if they wanted to and I was impressed with how deep and sincere their questions were. I also had kids pull me aside to ask me questions, and I was grateful that they felt comfortable enough to confide in me about not having many friends, being sad about the loss of a loved one, or feeling shy. While I don’t think I said anything to the kids or gave them advice that was life changing, I am glad that Erica and I were there and that Pathway has the volunteer program in place so these kids can have someone else to talk to.
Overall, I was impressed with how kind, giving, sincere, and happy everyone was that I came in contact with. Like I said, we were dealing with the poorest of the poor, people who really don’t have much. While I think they have every right to be sad because they have lost their family or their homes, they still radiated happiness and love. Alycia Altom
Rolling and shaping strips of paper has been around for centuries. Vocational mentally handicap children at Pathway Chennai have taken up the art of quilling with great dedication and patience. Chandra Prasad first observed quilled crafts during a local arts and crafts exhibition and wondered if this would provide the next new challenge to her students.
With some newly sourced slotted and needle tools, she began instructing Maria, Beena, Prabhu, Poongodi, and Bharat on how they could make small spirals from paper strips. These apprentices were particularly enamored with how the spirals could go from small tight circles to large springy strips. Eventually, commercially acquired tools proved flimsy and difficult to use and so Chandra fashioned tools combining modified needles, felt-marker shafts, and putty.
The group first started on basic shapes such as triangles, ovals, tear-drops, squares, etc. using stencil boards and then eventually moved on to more complex and intricate shapes. The first project was to make traditional Indian earrings called jhumkis. As skill and expertise grew, the group began coming up with their own ideas. They started creating complex yet elegant designs. This teacup and saucer were created with hundreds of small quilled spirals being joined together on a mold.
Quilling requires immense amounts of dexterity, hand-eye coordination, and creativity. The vocational children at Pathway Chennai have exceeded expectations in what was asked of them and have taken this opportunity to learn about colors, numbers, shapes, and counting. We have thus far sold quite a few pieces as souvenirs and currently make dolls and birds for sale. The children, upon learning about this lady who has made 1000 dolls have taken it upon themselves to double that number and enter into the Guinness Book of World Records.