The Maldives Autism Association on Monday received pledges from telecom giant Dhiraagu and the newly-opened Gloria Jean’s Coffee outlet on the occasion of World Autism Awareness Day.
Dhiraagu pledged to build a playground outside MAA’s building while Gloria Jean’s signed a MoU with the group at the opening ceremony of its restaurant at the Rasfannu beach pavilion last night.
The assistance will be used to broaden and improve therapy services at the Autism Centre, MAA programme director Shafeenaz Saeed told the Maldives Independent.
“There are 95 kids registered at MMA that we provide therapy for, out of which 75 receive therapy five times a week,” she said.
“Around 40 percent of the children are unable to pay the monthly fees, so we get sponsors for them. The pledges to MMA will help ease the difficulties the kids have to receive therapy.
“Our facility is very up to date for therapy. We don’t have a modern playground in Hulhumalé – that is why Dhiraagu took the initiative and pledged to build a playground for us. They previously built our playground in Malé too.”
Government and private office buildings were lit up in blue Monday night to mark Autism Awareness Day.
MAA has more activities planned for April to raise awareness about autism, including art exhibitions, swimming events, and pool parties.
Gloria Jean’s, an Australian franchise, also pledged assistance under their corporate social responsibility programme to the art community and down-syndrome association Beautiful Eyes of Maldives.
Speaking at the restaurant opening ceremony, MAA managing director Ifham Hussain urged other food chains and businesses to help children with autism and disabilities.
In 2014, hundreds of people gave testimony to an inquiry by the human rights watchdog about their struggles to seek proper treatment and education for children with disabilities. Statistics from 2009 showed that out of 2,250 children with disabilities, only 230 were attending schools at the time.
On this #WorldAutismAwarenessDay, we would like to acknowledge the hard work by all the teachers, caregivers and parents in brightening the lives of children with autism. Today we pledged to help establish an outdoor playground at the @maldivesautism Centre in Hulhumalé. pic.twitter.com/hc7803DhqN
— Dhiraagu (@Dhiraagu) April 2, 2018
— Autism Association (@maldivesautism) April 2, 2018