Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Changing the world, one community at time

I use to say there are two kinds of special education teachers that I work with.

Sadly the first kind looks for my help to lessen their workload.

They come to me and ask, “what should I do with this student?”.

But nothing is ever possible.

They just want to be able to justify not doing everything they are supposed to do.

To be able to say “I tried, but it just wasn’t possible”.

This is because none of the teachers are really special education teachers.

Most of them are high school graduates and they work as special education teachers because they were given two option.

Either they do it or they won’t work at all.

Not the best way to motivate people.

This happened because when we started, even the administrative personal saw special education as the worst job imaginable.

It was something that the government obliged them to do.

It was something that they understood that needed to be done.

But at the same time, culturally, it was the most disgusting thing they could possibly do.

For Kichwa culture, a child that is born visibly disabled is supai wawa, a demon child.

Supai wawa is born when a demon enters a woman and kills the baby inside and takes the baby’s body over.

It is not a real baby, but a kind of zombie, held by an evil spirit that wants to propagate.

And if it is allowed to live it will spread around and infect other women and other women.

So, that finally all babies born will be deformed, disabled, demons.

A very primitive thinking that is luckily disappearing.

But in ways, it still affects people’s actions.

Other form of attaining disability is by sin.

If your parents sinned, if they did something horribly wrong.

Then a disabled baby is born.

A thinking born out of a mix of traditional beliefs and Catholic Church’s teachings.

This way of thinking also explains why some people attain disabilities later on in life.

Be it by disease, accidents, or any other reason, the real reason behind it all is the sin.

Either they sinned, or their parents but someone did it, and so now they have to live with a disability.

When we started our work with the special education among Kichwas it was not very popular.

And the teachers, who were made to work with disabled children, were not very happy about it.

Some of them sought to find ways to change career, or they simply renounced after seeing their students.

Or they stayed long enough to find another job.

Or they did the bare minimum.

But then there is the second kind of teachers.

Who come to me and ask the same question “what should I do with this student?”.

And I find that they have already gone the extra mile and beyond.

That they have gone to the students home, they have gotten the mother to take them to the hospital.

They have gotten them to the disability registry; they have gotten the attention necessary.

They are doing what I told.

But it’s not enough.

They want more.

Because in Kichwa culture, everything is communal.

You take care of your community and its members.

You make sure everything is well and they are well.

And when a special education teacher understands that a disabled person is truly a person.

That they are on a mission, on a mission to make sure everyone understands it.

To make sure, they are made part of the community.

And when the community accepts the person, it does not matter what the parents want, it does not matter what anyone wants or says.

Because the community makes sure that everyone in the community are well and taken care of.

When I came here, I saw an impossible mission in front of me.

And I was sure I would never be able to make it.

Vast amount of people, hidden in the jungle, far away from each other, with a culture that tells them that people with disability aren’t people.

How could I change it?

Well, it was impossible, I could not change it and I won’t change it.

The special education teachers are making the change, one community at time.


  1. I work in special education, too. There are still those types of teachers in America--ones who just do it to get by and those that do it to make a difference in lives. What a great opportunity for you to make a difference in the world. Thanks for sharing this post.

    1. It is a hard change to make, Mary Ann. I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

  2. I child is a child, special or not.. Those teachers need to come to grips and make a difference in the child's life.

  3. I had some great teachers who really raised me up. May that happen everywhere. Thank you for sharing.

  4. I was a teacher before I had my baby and it was a super tough job but I loved it. Those teachers are amazing!

    Michelle F>

  5. Those doing special education are really great as they have a really challenging work.

  6. It's such a sad, primitive way of thinking. My nephew is a special needs adult and he is smart enough to know he is different. It really breaks our hearts when people make fun of him right in front of him and us, just as if we were not there. I'm glad people are helping change others minds about disabilities and that we all have feelings, wants and needs and should have the same respect as anyone else.

    1. It is a really tough situation, Julie. Sadly it's something that has been happening all around the world. For different reason special needs people have been separated from so-called "regular" or "normal" people. And that only helps to cause more ignorance. I hope it will change. But the important thing is to make the difference in the lives around us.

  7. Such Beautiful Child Interesting Read Thank You For Sharing!

  8. I'm so glad things are beginning to change and thank you for all your efforts n making this happen!

  9. I am so glad I read this, and I agree, A Child is A Child.. I like to think even being around a disabled child is the same as being around a child, its simple as that... I am glad you are making effort and I will definitely be sending prayers your way.. I so often see so many ,I think I will just stop sorry.. I can just go on n on... God Bless and thanks for what you do

    1. Thank you for your comment and prayers, they are needed. God bless you too!

  10. I love your posts. SO may great pictures and stories each day.

  11. That is really really sad. I am glad there are some teachers still willing to help though.

  12. You have such a kind heart. Your posts always really touch me.

  13. Their should be more people out there like you. I love the work you have done. Kodos to you and others you work with. :)

  14. Special education teachers should get paid far more than they do. If they did, it would attract far more people who actually care than high school students or people who are just not trained properly for the job.

    1. I agree, they should be paid well. All the teachers should be paid well and special ed even a bit more because the work is hard and even dangerous at times. Hopefully that will happen but today education is important only in speeches when it comes to the politicians.

  15. I will be a completely changed person within a few more reads. Your posts are so positive, motivating and inspiring!

  16. It's good to know that there are good teachers out there. Even here, there are special education teachers who lack passion in their work.

  17. special education teachers are one of our heroes now a days. helping this kids one day at a time

  18. Oh! That is a very sad way to motivate the teachers, surely, but that also can't be good for the students because they have teachers that don't really want to be there for them. But I am still glad there are special education teachers anywhere in the world.

  19. Being a special need teacher is not for everyone. It's like being a great nurse. My aunt loves working with the elderly and it always amazing me just how much she loves what she does.

  20. It takes a special person to become a teacher, especially a special education teacher. That takes a lot of time and patience.