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Sari Hati School in Bali — A Free Special Needs School for the Poor

For A Mother’s Wish, Sari Hati School, a free special needs school for the poor, offers a heartwarming and loving model for caring for those with challenging intellectual disabilities requiring lifelong care. With its emphasis on the values that promote love and happiness, a holistic learning program, as well as a dynamic team of dedicated leaders and staff, Sari Hati School has been embraced by A Mother's Wish as a worthy project that we would like to support with our funds in the long term.

In this feature, we would like to share some of these characteristics in the hope of informing and inspiring others to develop nurturing programs that can genuinely offer families long-term alternative for their loved ones with intellectual disabilities, specifically those who will require lifelong support.

Here are the unique characteristics of Sari Hati School (founded in 2003):-

In a nutshell: A free school (currently operating 3 days a week, 5 hours a day) for 28 children and young adults with mental and physical disabilities (mild to severe), ranging in age from 3 to 45.

Population served: Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, Multiple Disabilities or Emotionally Disturbed. Some with challenging behaviours like hitting, banging their heads, and biting.

Characteristics: (all quotes come from Sari Hati School)

  • Focuses on creating “a safe, happy environment”, which is driven by the following values: 1) “Togetherness”, 2) “Caring”, 3) “Trust”, 4) “Harmony”, and 5) “Love”; and the 3Ps (“Passion”, “Patience”, and “Perseverance”):

As someone who has visited the school in person, I can attest to the amazing resultant atmosphere. The moment you step onto the school grounds and encounter the staff or the students, you can feel the joy, life and love in the air.

Ibu Sari, the passionate school director who runs the school, operates by the following principle that can be found plastered on the wall of the school:

“Everybody is a teacher. Every place is a school. Every moment is a lesson time.”

Both teachers and students learn through doing. This offers a stress-free environment that allows for learning at one’s pace and learning from one’s mistakes.

  • Endeavours to develop the overall well-being of the individual students: It seeks to cultivate students who possesses a strong sense of self from the inside out (“self-confidence, self-awareness, self-appreciation and self-love”), others (“social skills and an awareness of others”), and the world around them (“awareness and appreciation of the surrounding physical environment and the external world”).

  • Seeks to achieve the aforementioned aims with a holistic education that cultivates diverse skills:

- Creative Pursuits: e.g., Art, Music, Ceramics, Play → self-expression, fine motor skills, socialisation, and communication - Academic work: Reading, writing, and mathematics → academic skills - Movement and Coordination: Swimming and Yoga classes → body awareness and health, socialisation, and communication - Life skills and hobbies: Gardening, washing motorcycles, cooking class, older kids helping to prepare lunches at school → fine motor skills, socialisation, communication, and environmental awareness - Sharing of meals → socialisation and communication - Interactions with other schools and community & cultural outings → socialisation, communication, and community awareness - Placement of some students into part-time jobs, while they continue to attend the school → socialisation, communication, and community awareness - Home visits → comprehensive understanding of the life of the students.

• Human Resources

- 16 local staff: 2 drivers for transporting students; 2 cooks; 1 cleaning service; and teachers (3 mothers of the students and young people who come from poor families). Teachers are selected because they are patient and have a big heart. - Volunteers for students - Long-term and committed volunteers with experience in child development, psychology, disability or related fields

• Funding: Foreign and local sponsors of the school (covering ongoing expenses), sponsors for individual students, donations, volunteers doing crowdfunding campaigns, & fundraising events.

• Physical Environment

- Small school: Mostly outdoors, 2 classrooms and 1 big open room. - 1 classroom for students who are challenging or are exhibiting challenging behaviours. Another room where students can spend alone time to play, relax, etc. Students are rotated between the rooms. - The big room with an open space concept is used for gym class, yoga, and art class. - Small playground with swings and slides - A long table and seating areas (little table and seat) for visitors, meetings, and communal meal times - Kitchen for the preparation of lunchtime meals and cooking activities.

Thank you in advance for your support!

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