By Sister Wendy Ooi, fsp
SINGAPORE - They have been referred to as "revolutionaries" by a New Zealand newspaper.
Maryknoll Father Adam Gudalesfsky (above left) and Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister Concepcion Madduma (left) believe in giving back to parents the responsibility of educating their children at home and they take time off their usual pastoral work (he in Hong Kong, she in India) to train parents to home educate the mentally disabled.
Since they started working together 20 years ago, they have been invited by governments, NGOs and parent groups from 50 nations. They have visited Singapore three times in the past, once at the invitation of the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore.
Their approach is described as "non-institutional (home centred), non-professional (family centred) and non-profit (low or no cost) for the total education (physical, spiritual/moral and mental) of the child."
Father Adam was a director of a nursery and institution for the mentally handicapped in Japan for 12 years while Sister Concepcion was trained professionally to educate the mentally disabled and holds a Masters in Special Education.
Despite their experiences in formal institutions, they now believe that the best education for any child (mentally slow or otherwise) is at home. While in Singapore recently, they met a group of parents of mentally disabled children on Jun 9.
Father Adam told them, "Never underestimate what they can learn. Never underestimate what you can do for them. You're the most trusted person in their lives, and remember, they are not stupid, but slow."