ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: AHMAD Faris asks visitors to sit right beside him as he excitedly shows off his timetables homework and drawings in his book.
Just a few feet away Arif Helmi excitedly rides his tricycle, the wide grin on his face speaking volumes for his delight.
Ahmad Faris is 44 while Arif is four, and they are the oldest and youngest of the ten mentally and physically disabled people who call the Bangsa Ria centre in Section 12, Petaling Jaya home.
“Even though they might be more than 40 years old, they are all children in our mind,” said the centre’s chairman Saras Manickam.
Besides Faris and Arif, there is Kannan, Mabel, Eunice, Faizal, Ashraf, Vincent,
Jonathan and Aaron in the centre which operates from every weekday from 8.30am to 5pm.
They suffer from different mental disabilities such as Down Syndrome, autism and global development delay (GDD) among others.
“Most of them can’t talk, they can’t wear their own shorts and they can’t clean themselves,” said Saras.
“Learning to hold a spoon and put it in their mouth is a fantastic achievement. What is a small thing to other people is a big thing for our children,” she added.