Made Murdani, 50, runs the Sekolah Luar Biasa special-needs school at Nusa Dua, where deaf, mentally disabled and autistic children receive an education. She shared her day with Carla Albertí de la Rosa.
My day starts every morning at 5. I’m used to waking up before the sunrise because it’s so quiet at that time and I’ve been doing it for most of my life.
The first thing I do is pray to God and thank him for keeping my family healthy. I then make my daily offerings for about 20 minutes. I make popcorn for my offerings and the house smells delicious all morning. I then have some breakfast with my family. I have some tea and bread with butter and strawberry jam.
It’s the quickest thing to make and I can’t be bothered to cook fried rice. I then clean the house and go to my school. We live inside the school’s complex and it’s very convenient to walk to work as it takes me less than two minutes to get to my office.
Right before I start work at 7:30 I sit on my desk and pray to God to help me continue my day healthy, and I then set up meetings and do paperwork. I go to the administration to check all the teachers are here and I then go around the classrooms and motivate the children.
With deaf children we have a limit of 10 kids per class. We teach them sign and oral language, as it’s important they know how to move their lips and vocalise for when they have to communicate with society. Educating children who are deaf, mentally disabled or autistic requires us to teach one by one.
Teachers always have to be on top of them and we can’t use the same curriculum as in a normal school because some things we cannot use with our kids.
It’s challenging to teach them about certain things they cannot see, such as God. We use symbols to explain His entity and we take them to pray at the temples. We have special classes for autistic, deaf and mentally disabled children but we can sometimes mix them in the same group. Some autistic children, for example, can be in the same class of the mentally disabled ones since they can sometimes have similar mental levels.
At 1pm I have my lunch, usually fried rice. I then organise the school programme. Every class has a journal and I check that they have achieved their weekly objectives. We teach from kindergarten to senior high school and although most of the school years go to class from Monday to Saturday, in high school they go to a workshop once a week additionally. They make t-shirts after learning how to sew and they do woodwork, ceramics or even learn how to work at a spa and beauty salon, so they stand a greater chance of finding a job in the future.
We want our kids to be confident and know how to socialise. We cooperate with hotels that train them every six months. They do internships for six months and then they are ready to work when they finish their education. Our kids will work at private companies, mainly because the government doesn’t allow many children with disabilities to work for them. There’s still great discrimination against children with physical disabilities, but many are perfectly capable of doing certain jobs.
We currently have 175 deaf children, 56 with mental disabilities and 14 who are autistic. I love these kids like my own and I believe they deserve a chance in life.
I sometimes do Balinese dance for them as I entered the school in 1985, one year after it was funded. Dancing is my favourite hobby and until last year I danced on special occasions at hotels.
I finish work at 4pm and go for a jog for half an hour. I try to visit my parents in Denpasar as much as possible and enjoy spending time with my family. One of my children is 15 and the other two are in their early 20s, so they sometimes cook their own dinner. But most of the time we have dinner together around 8pm and then I watch the news.
At night I pray to God and hope my students can find a job or even continue onto higher education, although that’s unlikely because Indonesia doesn’t have universities that are prepared for special education. I fall asleep around 10pm thinking about my plans for the next day.