Sebama Foundation runs a residential center called ‘Mercy Home’ for children with orthopedic, hearing and developmental disabilities in Dharmapuri District of Tamil Nadu, India. There are three schools on-site with a total of about 240 children.
The grant from Western Union Foundation will enable SF to have a new classroom building for the children comprising of 16 rooms comprising of classrooms and other rooms for science laboratory, medical, Staff, Administration and a multi-purpose room. The construction is well underway since April 2004 and anticipated to finished by end of 2004.
Mercy Home comprises three schools :
1. St. Joseph’s Welfare school for the orthopedically handicapped (Std I to XII) – there are 143 children enrolled (95 boys and 48 girls).
2. St. Mary’s School for the Deaf (Std I to V) – there are 56 children currently enrolled (32 boys and 24 girls).
3. Rosa Vocational Rehabilitation Center for the Mentally Retarded – this center currently has 30 children (18 boys and 9 girls).
Asha Colorado is currently collaborating with Sebama Foundation on the Rosa Vocational Rehabilitation Center for Mentally Retarded children. Asha Colorado launched the Support a Child program for the children at this center in October 2002. If you would like to support a child anytime please contact us.
Most often, due to a lack of awareness, mentally challenged children are brutalized and abused as they are thought to be possessed by spirits. Sebama Foundation wishes to build a residential school for these children so that the abuse can be minimized while simultaneously maximising the chances for those children with minimal mental problems, to lead an independent life.
Sebama Foundation started the Rosa center with 12 children who were evaluated by a mental health administrator to determine whether each child could be educated. WIthin a short time, the number of children has increased to 30. Brother Rayan says that he gets frequent requests from nearby villages to add more children.
The center has hired one special teacher and three ayahs to help the children who can be educated to be eventually assimilated into Mercy home. Children whose mental health does not permit them to educated are trained in simple tasks like cleanliness and hygiene, performing their day to day activities, arranging files, looking after the farm animals, packaging etc. In addition to helping the children, Sebama Foundation also aims to train the parents in the special needs required for their children. Following the 2003 Budget proposal, Asha has requested Brother Ryan to add one more special teacher to improve the student to teacher ratio.
Purpose / Goals
Provide education to mentally and orthopedically handicapped, as well as hearing impaired children from nearby villages to make them independent and self-sufficient.
The Sebama Foundation was started in 1988 with the primary aim of rehabilitating leprosy patients in the villages of Dharmapuri district in Tamilnadu. While working with the leprosy patients the health workers were confronted by the plight of large number of disabled children in the villages. The disabilities ranged from visual impairment to orthopedic disabilities. Sebama Foundation, therefore, started a residential school called “Mercy Home” for the physically challenged children of the villages.
The center was started by Brother Louis Rayan, who is also the Director of the organization. Br.Rayan, who has a post graduate degree in physical therapy and childcare, runs Mercy Home. He also studied the bible during his college days in Kerala, where he grew up. Inspired by the movement that Mother Teresa had set out to do, he went to Calcutta to work with her organization. He worked with them for four years. He then decided to come to Tamilnadu and do some social work in Dharmapuri where he had property and family. He started the home for the leprosy around 1983.
Please note that although he is called Brother, Br. Louis Rayan is not really a priest. He was studying in Kerala to be a priest but decided to leave that order and work with his own community fulltime (after spending some time in Calcutta with Mother Teresa’s organization). He said that he has stopped going to church, as he does not want people to spread rumors about his connection with the nearby Christian community. In his own words, he really isn’t a father but since he is a bachelor and has such an organization people call him Brother and the name has stuck. Brother later on started Mercy Home an educational institution for physically handicapped children.
In the long term, Sebama Foundation hopes to expand the service to a larger fraction of mentally challenged children in Dharmapuri district.
Sebama Foundation, Mercy Home
Sogathur Cross Road, Post Box 2,
Dharmapuri, TAMIL NADU 636703