About 50 Guyanese based abroad on Tuesday donated more than $ 1.5 million in teaching aids and play equipment to help disabled students at New Amsterdam Special Needs School.
A total of $ 1,520,000 (US $ 7,600) was donated to the âGive the children of New Amsterdam Special Needs School a place to laugh, smile and most importantly playâ project through the Foundation. Giving Abundantly in Life (GAIL).
The school is the only one of its kind in Region Six that welcomes children with learning disabilities and those who are Handicapped. Eleven teachers assisted by three auxiliary staff and three volunteers are responsible for the 75 full-time students in addition to the part-time students.
Founded in 1986 as the Lions School for Children with Disabilities, the school was moved, renamed New Amsterdam Special Needs School and transferred to the Region 6 Department of Education in 1994.
The rationale for establishing the school was to provide an opportunity to develop the social and professional skills of people with disabilities. To this end, the school administration has sought to provide a comfortable and friendly learning environment where students can excel.
Unfortunately, the lack of resources prevented the school from adequately fulfilling its mandate.
Florida-based attorney Gail Seeram, who is the founder of GAIL, visited the school in 2011 with the intention of rehabilitating its dilapidated playground equipment. However, realizing that the school was in dire need of learning aids and materials to help children understand what they were being taught, she also decided to set up a therapy room. âI came to see the playing field and walked around the building. When I entered one of the classrooms I saw a table that had books and was told it was the library.
I told myself that was not acceptable, âSeeram said at the dedication ceremony on Tuesday. âThis is the special school and these children are special. They can do whatever they wantâ¦ but we have to equip them with the tools and they need more tools to learn, âshe added.
The newly commissioned therapy room includes two wall-to-wall bookcases with books and teaching aids, projector, laptop and desktop, pull-down screen, several sign language learning DVDs and many toys. During this time, the playground was equipped with several swings, sewing saws and slides. âI just think that for a school or a children’s facility there has to be a play area. This is what the children do, they play, âSeeram said, adding thatâ there shouldn’t be a school or a children’s institution here in Guyana without a playground â.
During the inauguration ceremony and the blessing of the therapy room and the playground, the students had a sense of appreciation for the Guyanese who left Guyana but still remember their homeland and wish to contribute to its development. Students were urged to make full use of the equipment and to protect it from those who might want to vandalize it. “We are working in partnership with donors, but we are also working in partnership with you Guyanese”, said Seeram explaining the importance for the inhabitants to join the project and to adopt the project as theirs and to show an interest direct for its durability. âI promised to be accountable. I promised safety. I promised the upkeepâ¦ the local Guyanese here must work with us to maintain and secure these donations as it will encourage more people to donate. I don’t want to come back in a year and hear that the equipment has been vandalized, âshe said.
Yvonne Hinds, wife of Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, joined the GAIL Foundation at the inauguration ceremony and applauded Seeram for his help in the school. In her remarks, Hinds described Seeram as “a woman who shares her divine gifts and resources with those less fortunate in the world.” Revealing that Seeram is doing similar humanitarian work in Haiti with his church, Hinds implored donation recipients to “take good care of these facilities so that donors can be encouraged by the benefits of their contributions.” The GAIL Foundation reminds that Guyanese living abroad are ready to do charitable projects in Guyana.
Representatives from the regional administration and education department of Region Six and the New Amsterdam Lions Club were all introduced at the dedication ceremony. Ralph Seeram, one of the donors of the material present at the ceremony, took the opportunity to solicit the commitments of the authorities present to maintain the school grounds. âI don’t want to come back and see tall grass like the fence covering the playing field, as was evident two weeks ago,â he said.
“This [the playground] is of no use to these children if the grass is tall. I want a commitment from the regional administration or whoever to have the grass cut every two weeks, or it will be a waste of all this money [invested] if it is not going to be maintained, âhe added.
The administration of the New Amsterdam Special Needs School joined with the students and parents of the school in collectively thanking the GAIL Foundation for their assistance and assured donors that the equipment will be used for its intended purpose.