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Disability
Furthermore, Ali Jookhun is of the
opinion that there is room for improvement in terms of services for children
with disabilities. “It is also necessary to
spur the parents about the various services available. Above all, we should not
overwhelm them on the administrative
plan. On the contrary, we must make
their lives easier. Otherwise, it increases
the risk that they do not accept the disability of their child.”

Disabled and needy
Commenting on the plight of parents
of children with disabilities, the social
worker raises the case of those living in
poverty pockets. He says that it is even
harder for them: “Being poor, they will
not have the same facilities that wealthier
parents can provide to their children. In
addition, we often deal with single parent families. The father is gone or serving a prison sentence. The mother must
assume both roles and at the same time
work to feed the family. She has no choice
but to leave her disabled child to a neighbour who is also needy. When you see
this, you have a feeling of revolt that hits
you in the guts. The worst part is that you
are helpless and you wonder where our
elected representatives are.”

those with disabilities. “We always tend
to think it is the mother who has to care
for her disabled child. But the father must
also contribute fully to his upbringing. I
would say that the relationship between
the spouses is doubly important. Often
there are cases where the mother leaves
the family home and it is the father who
cares and vice versa. This further affects
the child with disabilities. Anyway, the
more harmony within the couple, the
better the child will be taken care of,” he
argued.
The social worker recognises that it is

Info
Santé

83

not always easy for some parents who
finally snap. There are even some who
have severe depression, especially those
who have not obtained the necessary
support.

Inclusive education
Ali Jookhun makes inclusive education his battle cry. Because he is convinced that the place of a child with
disabilities is in a normal school. According to him, children learn by imitation. “Those with disabilities will learn
from other children and at the same time,
their perception of disability will change.
Unfortunately, we still have some way to
go to that level. We must thank the former Minister of Education Vasant Bunwaree, who had developed the Resource
Centre to tackle the problem at the source.
The centre offered all therapies that were
needed.”
The president of U-Link regrets that
nurseries hardly accept children with
disabilities. He is pleased that the situation is better at pre-school level, despite
the fact that there is more improvement
to be made. Especially since, he says,
there are parents who act as mediators
to work to include more children with
disabilities in regular primary schools.

His own case

Sexual abuse

Ali Jookhun was himself the father of
two girls with disabilities. Born on 29th
of July 1993, Irfaanah and Umraanah
were suffering from cerebral palsy.
They died in 1999 and 2005 respectively. “The hardest part, in my case, was to
find available services. It was in the mid
90s and there was not much. Education
proposed almost nothing for disabled
children. Fortunately, I was lucky
that a normal pre-primary school
had accepted my two daughters. My
wife and I were strong parents. We
accepted our two daughters with
their disability. Sometimes religious
faith plays a role also. For us, it was
a blessing. On 29th of July, my two
daughters would have turned 23. I have
fond memories and intense emotional
moments of them,” he says in a broken
voice.
He added that parents are the best
teachers for the children, including

Ali Jookhun reports sexual abuse suffered by children with disabilities. He
says that those with mental disabilities
are most at risk. He reveals that all reports confirm that very often family
members are perpetrators of such abuse.
“They know perfectly well that the victim
will be inconsistent in his testimony that
will not hold up in court. So they can act
with impunity. But the victims are also
found in specialized centres. And you
will find that often these abuses are not
reported. First, these organizations value
their reputation. Then, a case of sexual
abuse may lead to the institution’s closure.
Besides that there are repercussions in enrolment,” he insists.
As for the parents, Ali Jookhun argues, they face pressure so that they do
not complain. Then, there is the following. If they denounce, the parents know
they will not be able to send their child
to the institution in question anymore...


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