The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
A feel of home, high on special care

A school doesn’t get homelier than this. Phulwari, which turned three on Tuesday, blossoms at the spacious residence of Krishna Roy in New Alipore. Which means more liberty and care for the children than is available within the four walls of the classroom. And the teens, toddlers and tweens at Phulwari need all of that and more. For they are all special, or differently-abled, children.

“There are some kids who can get admission to an integrated school with guidance while others will never make it to school. Phulwari is for all of them,” says Roy, while keeping a fond eye on Shruti, a hyperactive nine-year-old merrily jumping from sofa to sofa.

“This is a great thing about our school. Though it is run professionally, we are not tied by a strict schedule and can adapt to the instant needs of the children,” says Moushumi Banerjee, one of the instructors. And these children can sure communicate their wishes. Ansh, an autistic child, will feign a stomach ache when he is not in the mood for maths (though he is good at addition and subtraction) and Kalpesh, a great Ganesha fan, may just lie down on the floor in the drawing period, refusing to pick up a crayon. The trick then is to ask one to play and the other to paint a Ganesha, laughs Moushumi.

In the run-up to the anniversary, though, there was no scope to lie down or put their feet up. “This is the first time that we are celebrating our birthday in a big way so that the parents have a chance to see what their children are capable of,” Roy explains. So Baidurya was busy putting blue thumb impressions, between which his teacher Leena Sarkar was drawing fish to make it resemble a seascape. Rishav had drawn a boy under an umbrella, again with his thumb. Ansh was in charge of pasting. “But since he can't hold scissors, we have to help out with the cutting,” Leena adds.

The other half of the proceedings consisted of cultural programmes. Here, Ansh had a solo act. “Umbrella in hand, he plays a market-goer to a four-line Bhojpuri song,” explains Mahua Dey, another teacher.

The weekly music class, incidentally, is a great hit with the children. “It is a group class where Babun dada comes to play the tabla. Senior students, like Subham and Richa, can play the synthesizer. You should also see them control the classroom — ‘Tum chupchap baithke gana gao na. Aur tum aise haath hilao...’ they tell the others,” says Moushumi.

“My aim is to teach these kids do-it-yourself methods so that they can be independent in at least toilet habits and dressing,” says Roy, who teaches at Akshar, the city’s only integrated school, in the morning. Phulwari is looking for more space so that “we can take more on the boat,” says Roy.

Email This Page