ashoka

Linked with Dina Abdel Wahab – Egypt, with the Baby Academy, with Hasanain Juaini – Indonesia, and with Paul Rice – USA.

In Egyptian society, as in many societies, brain and genetic disorders are not well understood by the public. People who have, for example, autism or a severe learning disability are shunned, pushed to society’s margins, and written off as burdensome to families and society. Faulty public perception, shaped by ignorance and misunderstanding, is the condemning factor that underlies all others.

Dina, the mother of a five-year-old with Down’s syndrome, sees that to change attitudes and pave the way for societal reform, children are the place to start. In fact, the early preschool years offer an especially promising opportunity to realize important advances in societal integration by setting a different expectation of normalcy early on.

This insight has led to the first of what Dina hopes will be a regional network of preschools that prioritize the integration of children with special needs and children without them.

Traditionally, Egyptian children with special needs have not been well-accepted or provided for in mainstream culture. Already crowded public schools won’t accept children with disabilities and private schools will admit only the brightest students, leaving no place for children with a number of common disabilities. (Red more on pbs.org).

Now in its third year, the inaugural school offers a stimulating environment for all children to learn together, play together, and develop friendships. Furthermore, the adults in the picture–teachers and parents–learn to see special needs in a far more tolerant light.

Having demonstrated success with her first school, Dina plans to introduce school-based integration of children with special needs throughout the Middle East and, with other parents and supporters, influence public policy and opinion through advocacy and education.

According to the Information Center of the Egyptian Cabinet, roughly two million Egyptians are disabled or have special needs. Of these, half are children. Many believe these estimates are conservative; the actual figures, some contend, are double. According to the cabinet’s report, governmental and nongovernmental services reach only about 1 percent of children and adults with special needs. The rest–the vast majority–are dismissed, assumed to be incapable of learning, achieving, or leading independent lives. Parents hide such children away and feel shamed and isolated.

Dina believes that even the 1 percent who get help do not receive the right kind. It is true that dozens of charity groups focus on disabilities, but these efforts fail to provide the things most desperately needed–straightforward information about disorders and impairments, their causes, and their treatments; support to parents; training to teachers, doctors, and other adults; and the best possible early learning environments for children with special needs.

Misunderstanding, fear, pity–these sentiments, born of ignorance and linked to age-old assumptions about ability, normalcy, and human potential persist, and no one has figured out an effective approach to changing them. (Read more on ashoka).

Ashoka, a non-governmental organization, gives new hope to ambitious social entrepreneurs with big plans to realize. Regional Director for the Arab world Dr. Iman Bibars explains that the concept behind Ashoka is to “invest in individuals” who in turn need to come up with a plan to make it financially sustainable in the long term. (Read more on Egypt Today).

The four-hour TV series travels the globe to explore the ideas and impact of “social entrepreneurs” who measure their bottom line in lives. In India, Kailash Satyarthi rescues brutally enslaved children in daring raids and promotes a radical vision to end forced child labor. In Kenya, Martin Fisher and Nick Moon introduced a low-cost, manual water pump that doubles the yield of a small farm. In Bangladesh, Muhammad Yunus founded a bank that has loaned billions of dollars to millions of poor families, all without any collateral. In Egypt, Dina Abdel Wahab has broken through cultural taboos to create quality schools for children with disabilities. Hedge was charged with creating the series soundtrack, but knew from the start, he wanted the CD to stand as a recording in its own right. (Read more on Rock Paper Scissors).

King Ashoka said once: “All men are my children. I am like a father to them. As every father desires the good and the happiness of his children, I wish that all men should be happy always.” These are the words of an emperor who lived two thousand and three hundred years ago. We see in history how even mere chieftains grew arrogant and used their powers selfishly and unjustly. But the emperor who said the above words ruled over the greater part of India. He had the power of life and death over millions of his subjects. Is it surprising that free India remembers him with admiration? This emperor was Ashoka (also called ‘Devanampriya Priyadarshi’). The wheel in the abacus of the pillar which he erected as a memorial at Saranath now adorns the national flag of free India. (Read more on freeindia.org).

My general comment about a good king: Good kings are always a lucky matter, but have the children today thought about their own growing up? To be no more children, but grown up individuals, no more crying for a father, but taking their own responsibility? The best father is nothing, if the children remain children !

What our world needs most today is not a good father, but that we become all good, responsable, grown up individuals, taking our responsibility.

King Asoka, the third monarch of the Indian Mauryan dynasty, has come to be regarded as one of the most exemplary rulers in world history. The British historian H.G. Wells has written: “Amidst the tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd the columns of history … the name of Asoka shines, and shines almost alone, a star.” Although Buddhist literature preserved the legend of this ruler — the story of a cruel and ruthless king who converted to Buddhism and thereafter established a reign of virtue — definitive historical records of his reign were lacking. Then in the nineteenth century there came to light a large number of edicts, in India, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan. These edicts, inscribed on rocks and pillars, proclaim Asoka’s reforms and policies and promulgate his advice to his subjects. The present rendering of these edicts, based on earlier translations, offers us insights into a powerful and capable ruler’s attempt to establish an empire on the foundation of righteousness, a reign which makes the moral and spiritual welfare of his subjects its primary concern. The Australian bhikkhu Ven. S. Dhammika, the compiler of the present work, is the spiritual director of the Buddha Dhamma Mandala Society in Singapore. Read more on the edicts of king ashoka). See also the life of Ashoka Mauryan.

links:
Ashoka International;

ashoka sitemap, and
ashoka germany;

german wikipedia about the king ashoka;

english wikipedia about the king ashoka;

ashoka espagnol;

Humberto Prado, Fellow de Ashoka en Venezuela inaugura su nuevo sitio en Internet;

Biography of the unknown ashuka.

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