History

The Beginning

Society for Children In Need Of Special Attention or SCINOSA was founded in 1960 and the first governing body was elected on 11th February, by Mr.A.S.Muslim. Mr. Muslim had just been a parent whose first-born son had Down’s syndrome. In the late 1950s in Pakistan, he searched in vain for a qualified person who could guide him in finding ways to help his son. In desperation, he finally wrote a letter in a newspaper urging parent, doctors just anybody who had some knowledge about mental retardation to come forward to ease his plight.

The response was overwhelming-letter poured in from parents in a similar situation. Inspired by the pleas, Mr. Muslim organized a core group of parents and sympathizers, many from the medical profession to from the society with the aim of not only improving the quality of life the mentally retarded but also making it more meaning full. The first General Body meeting of 17 members of the Society was held on 4th February 1960 and the first Governing Body meeting was held on 13th February 1960. Both meetings were held as 20, Oriental Chambers, Altaf Hussain Road, Karachi.

Early Years
For some time the new Society was unsuccessful in its efforts to implement its stated objectives. No guidance or help was available as work has been done in this regard in the country. Thus, no worthwhile programme could be undertaken for about 2 years. The Society could collect only about Rs.1,500/- as total capital during this period.

The founder Mr. A. S. Muslim undertook a tour of a number of European countries in 1961 and utilising his business contacts, visited several institutions engaged in the education and training of the mentally retarded in Belgium, Holland, Norway and the U.K., and collect guidelines and some material. It was during his visit to Norway where he visited a centre for special children that Mr. Muslim discovered the model he was looking for.

SCINOSA Day Home (SDH) was established on the pattern of Ragna Ringdal’s Daghjem, Oslo, Norway on 1st March 1962 in a rented building at 2/18-H, P.E.C.H. Society, near Masjid-e-Tayyaba, Karachi. It not only functioned as a place where children with mental handicaps were looked after, but also involved them in activities that helped stimulate their mind.

Rent for the premises was Rs. 250/- per month. Staff consisted of one lady teacher, a B.A., B.Ed., as monthly salary of Rs. 250/- and an Aya at Rs. 100/- per month salary. The centre had 2 children with fees of Rs. 250/- per month each.

The early programme in 1962 began with a sum of less than Rs. 1,500/-, collected as membership fee over a period of two years. This capital represented not more than two months expenses for the centre. However, as the work progressed and the centre become known, both the parents & general public responded. The need was there. No facility was available. With the help and participation of parents of the afflicted children, some well wishers, and philanthropists, SCINOSA Day Home has flourished into the largest non-profit private institution in the field in Pakistan. SCINOSA is not only the pioneer, it has been and continues to be the leader in providing care, training and rehabilitation services to the children afflicted with Down’s syndrome and mental retardation in Pakistan

New Premises
Mrs. B.K.Das wife of Air Vice- Marshall B.K.Das of the Pakistan Air Force came into contact with SCINOSA and got close to the children. She used her resources and the KDA allotted a plot in North Nazimabad on which today our present school stands. Generation of parents have and shall be indebted to this gracious lady for her contribution to children in need of special attention.

Once the land was with the society, the next step was to get a school building. Mr. G.D.Tharia, a parent, whose son was one of the first students and is still enrolled came forward and through his good offices, Mr. Hameed Habib, of the renowned Habib family, donated the amount required for constructing the building which was made operational on 1st March 1972, designed by architect Mr. Minoo Mistry. To this day our students are benefiting from their kindness.

Beginning with 2 students in 1962, the ultimate strength of the students in the old premises rose to 35 which was the maximum number that could be accommodated in the space available. However, when S.D.H. was shifted to its present purpose premises in 1972, the average yearly strength rose to 60.

International Contacts
During the formation of SCINOSA and thereafter, the committee had been in touch with other Societies, Associations, Institutions and many individuals the world over to seek knowledge, guidance and benefit from their experience in this field. This was primarily because there was no example or tradition of such work in Pakistan. Amongst such associations / individuals were:

  1. Miss Pearl S. Buck, renowned Noble Prize winning author and mother of a mentally retarded daughter having written a book on the subject.
  2. Training School at Vineland, New Jersey, where her daughter war cared for.
  3. National Association for Mentally Retarded Children Inc. U.S.A.
  4. Mrs. Rosemary Dybwad, one of the founding members of the International League of Societies for Mentally Handicapped.
  5. Dr. Leo Connor and Dr. France Connor, head of Department of Special Education Teacher’s Collage, Columbia University, New York, N.Y.
  6. Joseph P. Kennedy Junior Foundation
  7. George Peabody Collage for Teachers (for the Retarded)
  8. Ragna Ringdal’s Daghjem, Oslo Norway.

Mental Retardation Research Programme
Soon after establishment of SCINOSA Day Home, Dr. Howard Rusk, representing President John F. Kennedy, visited SCINOSA with a proposal to include S.D.H. in the Joseph P. Kennedy Junior Foundation programme of worldwide research on mental retardation. As SCINOSA was not equipped for a technical and professional program of this nature, it could not directly participate in this undertaking. Also no possible aid for the program could be availed by a non-government agency like SCINOSA, therefore SCINOSA arranged establishment of MRRP at the Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre Karachi. SCINOSA was thus instrumental in the establishment of Mental Retardation Research Project in Pakistan. The project Directors was Dr. Zaki Hassan and Dr. Akhter Ahmed as the Deputy Director, with a large team of others interested. This project worked for several years and examined about 1,000 mentally retarded children, with SCINOSA being the main source of information and the observation centre.

The MRRP publish a report about its findings, making a basic but very valuable contribution to the work for the mentally handicapped in Pakistan, for which SCINOSA has been rightly acclaimed at various relevant forums.