Bandar Seri Begawan - Despite Brunei being a welfare-orientated country, the awareness of special-needs children still needs to be increased so that the public may be more understanding of their condition.
Brunei's leading health and fitness club, Fitness Zone, has launched a four-day charity sports carnival yesterday to raise funds for these children.
Having a younger brother, Fairul Azmi Hj Suhaimi, who is a down-syndrome child, Mohd Arif Fikri Hj Marzi highlighted that such children generally face challenges as they are "often misunderstood" by the public.
"Some people do talk negatively behind our backs and call him names, but I am not bothered because I know better," he said. "He is still family and we love him."
Special-needs children are "just like any other normal person", Mohd Arif said. In fact, these children may even be "more loving and caring" compared to other "so-called normal people".
'Although Fairul is only six, he tries to help around the house as much as he can such as sweeping the floor and washing the clothes," he said. "The only difference is that special children tend to be slower learners. That is all." Mohd Arif highlighted that the urgent need for families with special children is not monetary support but better facilities to help train these children.
"The biggest headache that we constantly face is trying to understand him through his gestures," he said. "I hope my brother will be able to speak one day (through proper training)." The primary school teacher also told The Brunei Times that the event is meaningful as it provides a platform for the public to discover more about special-needs children by mingling closely with them.
"Brunei may be a well-to-do country, but there are still people in the society who need our attention and help," said Wu Chun, the owner of Fitness Zone. He also commented that Brunei residents are generally compassionate and would love to help the needy, but are often unaware of the means available to do so.
"Organising such public events is therefore important to give the public an opportunity to actually contribute to help make a difference," said Wu, who is also a singer and actor. "People with such capacity should collaborate together to organise such events in the future on a consistent basis."
Participant for the Fitness Zone charity programme Keeran Janin thinks that the special children are "in good hands" as Brunei residents are usually "well taken care of". Judging from the "visible support" observed at the event, he said, Bruneians are generally quite concerned about the welfare of these children.
The event, specially organised by the Association for Children with Special Needs (Kaca) and UNICEF, was attended by Sheikh Jamaluddin Sheikh Mohammed, the Director of Tourism in Brunei who was the guest of honour. Also attending the function was Mohd Jaffari Hj Mahadi, the head of the supervision division of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and other NCB officers.
-- Courtesy of Brunei Times