The Islamic Centre for the Physically Handicapped at Doolmala, Thihariya was established in May 1984 with about five students and gradually expanded to 250 at present. It has 40 dedicated academic and supporting staff who patiently and diligently help the pupils develop their innate skills and abilities.
The Centre provides formal education, vocational training, rehabilitation, food, accommodation and medical care free of charge to the hearing and visually impaired and those who are physically and mentally handicapped from primary to secondary level. The facilities consist of full time classrooms, hostels for students, visitor quarters, grounds for the children where sports activities are routinely held and the necessary facilities and equipment for vocational training. The buildings situated on a four acre piece of land are well planned and maintained,
Being an Islamic school, the Centre provides separate classes for boys and girls even though children of all faiths attend the school. The method of teaching varies depending on the handicap. For those who are hearing impaired, sign language and lip reading are taught. Visually impaired children are taught using the Braille system. Even the reading of the Holy Quran by a student using Braille could be done. The entire Quran is available in the Braille system for students to learn and read.
Vocational training is another area where the students at the centre excel. Once the students complete their normal education they are assigned to vocational training based on their physical abilities; learning various skills from jewel crafting to gem cutting to carpentry and sewing. Boys are taught tailoring, lapidary skills such as gem cutting and polishing, candle making and computer science while girls are taught cookery, embroidery, jewelry designing and computer studies. Vocational training is also provided for mentally challenged students from agriculture to gardening. Some of the finished products of past students are displayed in show cases.
Fully serviced hostel facilities are provided for girls and boys. The staff and students living in the hostels work together in the maintenance and upholding of the hostels. The senior students look after the juniors and disabled students who are unable to cope on their own. It is quite stirring to see the camaraderie of the children, watching over each other as if they were all a large group of siblings. The Centre emphasizes independence in their motto, ‘Disability is not inability’ so that these children are not coddled but trained so that they may learn to be as independent as humanly possible. A few students have entered the university and many have gone on to overcome their difficulties and lead an enriching and fulfilling life.
As for future projects, it is intended to purchase a 10-acre coconut estate in the Kurunegala District for income generation and to set up a dairy and poultry farm to provide job opportunities to past students. Other urgent needs include an ambulance, a minibus, wheelchairs, physical fitness equipment, hearing aids and computers for the blind incorporating talking software.
The Centre needs the assistance of the Sri Lankan Muslim community at large to continue its growth and outreach. If you are looking for an avenue to donate Zakat funds during this holy month of Ramadan, this is a wonderful opportunity to support an organization which is doing a noble service.
The Islamic Centre for the Physically Handicapped, Doolmala, Thihariya, Sri Lanka
Tel:033 2287840, 2287988 E-mail: [email protected]
Or by crossed cheque payable to:
Islamic Centre for the Physically Handicapped A/C