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FROM LEFT: Mouth and Foot Painting Artists Manjibhai L Ramani, Ganesh Kumar, Ravindran and Manoj Bhingare during the press conference of the Message of Hope 2012-13, at Hamad Bin Khalifa University Student Center yesterday. Kammutty VP
DOHA: Thousands of children with special needs in the country require support to unlock their hidden potentials to have the opportunity to be value-adding members of society and not looked down upon as social liability.
“Today, there are over 9,000 children with special needs in Qatar of whom less than 10 percent attend any kind of education,” said Dr Rajeev Mathew Thomas, founder and advisory board member of Hope Qatar Centre for children with special needs.
Dr Thomas, also Chairman of the Message of Hope 2012-13, was speaking at a press conference on the eve of the event yesterday at Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) Student Centre.
“If given the right opportunities at the right time and with the right attitude, children and adults with special needs can achieve great success in their lives,” he said, stressing it is the responsibility of society to provide them with opportunities.
This year, five members of the Indian Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (IMFPA) organisation are the messengers of Hope and they are in Doha for a two-day event comprising sessions from today at the HBKU Student Center.
An exhibition of 29 paintings by the artists, which according to Dr Thomas ‘must be seen to be believed’ runs until February 14 at the HBKU Art Gallery.
“Disabled children have something in them that should be identified and brought out. It is important for parents and society to believe in them,” foot painter Manoj Bhingare told the media.
Two years after he lost his arms in an accident at 10 — the darkest part of his life — he recalled, was made worse when he was turned down at first when he applied for university. Never giving up, he finished Fine Arts degree with flying colours and has achieved success in his career as a painter.
“I wanted to be a photographer but I could not take pictures, but I realised I could use my memory to reproduce beautiful landscapes using my mouth,” explained M V Ravindran, who has created over 200 paintings. Bobby Thomas of MFPA said they are delighted to come to Qatar because though their organisation has over 800 artists in 74 countries, it is not present in the region.
With the motto ‘Self-help not charity’, MFPA sustains the artists financially through sales of their works and other merchandises produced out of them. It also offers scholarships to members and lifetime monthly support regardless of the number of paintings they produce or if they have created any paintings at all.
Mouth painter Ganesh Kumar stressed that people with disabilities should be called ‘differently abled’ as they have their abilities.
In his message to special needs people, mouth painter Manjibhai L Ramani said: “Don’t be discouraged of your disability, rather see it as an opportunity to improve yourself and contribute to society.”