Friday, December 28, 2012

Did Mother Teresa not know that education was important for babies and children?

 Did Mother Teresa really not know that education was important for babies and children?
One would imagine that as she came to India having trained in Ireland to teach school and finally spent years as the Head Mistress of a Bengali girls’ high school that she would have to recognize the value of education. It was then her job- her life so she had to. But her later writings and actions pointed to her belief that education and perhaps even all good things of life did not belong to the poorer classes or as she put it ‘the poorest of the poor’. Even to her nuns who she arranged vows that ensured they would always obey their superior,
Then again could it be possible for a woman who came from a middle class family from a very divided country really believe that the poor should be kept in their place.  
Was it possible she believed that only handicapped persons required education?
 Post humorously in 2000 at least two volumes containing information of how to look after physically and mentally handicapped children was published –Missionaries of Charity ‘Private circulation only’. Dating from at least 1986 onwards given to presumably MT and thence the MC brothers who ran handicapped boys’ homes. Although the brothers’ homes show some indication of some application of these works The fact remains that I have seen no evidence that either of these manuals have been consulted or introduced into the nuns homes despite it now being the end of 2012!! These Publications I have kept as evidence that someone at the top prevented the nuns understanding the needs of children and babies- both normal and affected.
I had managed to obtain a copy of each one as a substitute when the nuns refused to find any of the ten copies of the 2001 publication ‘Not by Bread alone’ –the play therapy manual for orphanage children based on research that local pediatricians  had undertaken in MC’s Delhi Civil Lines home and the director assured me he had supplied the nuns with in their Kolkata HQ. Before I was aware of these manuals I had obtained a Loreto published ‘Playway’ method which Sr M –the then manager of SB with its up to 250 children graciously accepted from me. To her credit she was not the superior yet somehow she felt she felt guilty about the 4 or 5 deaths that she’d informed me were usual for SB Calcutta. Although the Loreto publication presumed that the reader would be aware of children’s basic needs, both the ‘Not for Bread alone’ and the MC’s works included basic child and baby care skills and needs. Although I managed to arrange a printout of an electronic copy of the Delhi work  I wasn’t required to return the MC
 It took some time for any of the MCs to accept the copy of ‘Not by bread alone’. The first nun- one on sabbatical from her New York based  convent was incensed when she read the first page which said that the project had commenced due to the MC superior worries over why there were so many complaints at the development level of the children sent for European adoption. ‘Impossible’ she fumed. ‘this is a lie’. Actually the fact that the adopted children were ‘backward’ was from my experience a known situation. When I arrived in Delhi I was immediately ,with no need of a volunteer card, allocated to teach the 11 various aged children. It was challenging. These children could barely hold a pencil- all except the 14 year old  a recent admission unable to even color- in. weeks it may have been months later some 8-10 year olds started drawing, but they never started talking in my 6 months except for their favourite things- umbrellas. Keys.. could they were they speaking Hindi instead- not according to the local experts from ‘Very Special Arts India’. Though they told me they could speak their own  ‘ga-ga’ language.

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