Differently Abled School is Source of Hope


The Lusito School is more than an institution that teaches and cares for differently abled children, it is a place where hope is infectious, and children’s lives are changed for the better forever, principal Deolinda Molina, says.


One such example is Marco Gomes, who despite being differently abled, has overcome worldly expectations and progressed from being a student at the Lusito School to being an invaluable member of staff.


“The human spirit can endure, but more so, it can soar despite adversity. Marco embodies this principle and is an inspiration to everyone else around him,” Molina says.


Gomes (44) suffered from cerebral anoxia when he was a toddler. At the tender age of two months, doctors had to operate on his heart to assist his oxygen-starved brain. The cerebral anoxia affected Marco’s mental development, rendering him completely dependent on the aid of his mother and the assistance of his teachers at the Lusito School.


But in spite of this, Gomes managed to not only graduate, but has become a long-standing employee at the school.


“Marco came to the Lusito School when he was five years old. He has been working there for 14 years. He is part of Lusito School, and Lusito is a huge part of Marco’s life, so much so that he struggles when it’s the holidays. His job fills him with so much pride. As a mother you always want the best for your children and having a purpose is important in a person’s life. This job offers Marco that,” Lourdes Gomes, his mother, says. 


Marco assists teachers in the classroom and feeds those children that are too young or incapable of feeding themselves, Molina continues.


“He also paints and fixes whatever is broken around the school. Because he has been here so long, everybody in the community knows Marco. He gets along with everyone and you can see that he truly enjoys his job.”


But his mom admits it hasn’t always been easy. “It has been a long road for all of us. I’ve had to teach Marco to read and handle himself, as you are aware, most things in this world don’t cater for differently abled people and most things can be a hazard to them. Even now, I’m always mothering him,” Gomes says facetiously.


The Lusito School, located in the south of Johannesburg, started off as a small day-care centre and has developed into a fully-fledged school for the differently abled. Today, the school has more than 80 learners who come from South Africa and other parts of Africa.


“Presently Lusito School cares for individuals with Cerebral Palsy, learning disabilities, traumatic brain injury, Down’s Syndrome and other syndromes,” Molina says.


The World Health Organisation estimates that one billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, live with some form of disability. Whilst Statistics South Africa says people living with a disability make up 7,5% of the population.


The school is managed by the Lusito Association, a non-profit organisation whose function is to raise funds for and maintain the Lusito School.  The association’s biggest fundraising event is the Lusito Land Festival which will take place from 20 April to the 22nd April, and then from the 26th April to 28th April 2019, at Cayman Road, Johannesburg South.


“Without Lusito School, Marco would not be the person he is today. He lives for helping those children. I think because he understands the importance of receiving help from someone that truly cares about you,” Gomes concludes.


The Lusito Land Festival is the ultimate cultural fun for the whole family. The festival offers delectable cuisine, live performances by local and international musicians, a play area for children and a host of entertainment to keep everyone busy.


The proceeds raised from the festival all go towards funding the Lusito School.

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