The sign outside the door reads in Urdu: Hayate Nau, which literally means new life. This sign gives a tiny inkling of what is happening within the building. Each morning a steady stream of children makes their way inside. Some of the children are carried in by parents or older siblings; others are in wheelchairs and yet more make their way in by walking. For this is a Community Day Center for children and young people with special needs.
Some children wear the expression of a flower fully open, drinking in the warmth of the love of those around them. Their eyes are bright and welcoming even though their tiny limbs are withered and sometimes jerk with spasms over which they have no control.
Other children are like the closed petals of flowers, wrapped tightly around each other, to protect a deep, vulnerable, inner core. And in between, there are the mischievous grins of naughty boys; the laughter of friends joking and teasing each other; and the wordless plea for love written on a little girl’s face and spoken from her dark eyes that are often clouded over with the mist of tears.
Most of the children, but not all, come from homes touched by the deepest poverty. Often, though
not always, they come from places that are places rich in love. Some of their parents bear the burden of not only having a disabled child but also the brunt of negative perceptions and deeply rooted superstitions within the wider community as to why the child was born that way. The temptation, often succumbed to, is to hide the child away.
Sometimes, it has been known to happen, a child is sold to a syndicate of beggars or enters the chain of human traffi cking to be used/abused for profi t. No one would wish this fate on any child. Yet, for some parents, love conquers fear, and they fi nd that in caring for their special child they tap into deep well-springs of inner courage and strength that they never knew they had. And often, to their own amazement and wonder, this little one, the most dependent of all their children, awakens them to the mystery of life’s true meaning and gift. However, this in no way takes away from the agony that parents endure in seeking the best way forward for their child or the countless hours spent in looking after their most basic physical comfort and needs, often at great personal cost. An abiding memory for me, and for the others present when it happened, was the wonder and miracle of seeing an autistic child
who was sitting in a specially designed chair that supported his head in a comfortable way lean forward, of his own accord, to gaze in fascination at a toy seal twirling a ball on the tip of its nose, his face transported in awe and delight. It was a moment of new life for us all. Hayat e Nau Community Based Rehabilitation Center came into being through the hard work and patient efforts of committed Catholic layman Javed Sadiq who is its founder and Director.
The Center seeks to support the family in giving their special child the opportunity to receive the rehabilitation therapy that they need combined with the basic skills of daily life and learning skills suitable to each child’s ability. The Center provides a caring environment that both challenges and affi rms, believing that each and every child has the right to a quality of life with dignity.
The Center operates out of fi ve rented rooms with a small outer courtyard with toilets and showers off it. Currently there are 37 children registered with Hayat e Nau.Twenty two children attend the Day Center, and seven are in our Outreach program. There are eight children on the waiting list to attend the Day Center. Lack of space, and the individual care and treatment plan that each child needs, makes it impossible to help any more children at the present time. The Center’s facilities are limited but, in spite of this, for many children and their parents Hayat e Nau is a place that nurtures new life and that’s what makes the difference in the lives of the children and their families.