Hemalatha Chena – Mithra School Principal

From the beginning in 1977, Sr Mary Theodore knew that physically and intellectually challenged children could live much better lives if they received help from the relevant professionals. Rehabilitation was Sister’s “buzz” word. She had discovered that poor children with disabilities were kept at home with no opportunity for improvement.

From its foundation, Mithra offered educational opportunities for every child. No matter what degree of disability a child had, Sr Theodore encouraged her teachers to discover what each child was able to do, and then to develop programs to enable each child to progress little by little.

Hemalatha Chena was one of the first teachers at Mithra. She joined Sr Mary Theodore in 1982. She remembers how Sr Patricia Power OP from Adelaide came to Mithra and made the little school of just eight teachers a going concern. Sr Patricia introduced Art classes, Blissymbolics (sign language) and professional development for the teachers. Some eleven years later when Sr Patricia returned to Australia, Hema was asked to take over as Principal of the school.

When asked why she has stayed so long at Mithra, Hema’s immediate reply is that she just wants to serve these deserving children. She is inspired by Sr Mary Theodore’s openness and trust. She recalls how Sr Theodore always took a personal interest in every staff member as well as every child, and she would always show her appreciation for everything staff did for the children. And she remembers Sr Mary Theodore saying to her: “When I go, Hema, you be here!”

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