He cannot hear the world but he makes sure he is heard – Rituraj Rabha, Assam

Rituraj at home, getting ready for class with his tutor

Rituraj is a 12 year old boy who loves playing cricket. He plays regularly with a group of 10-12 boys in his village located in Dimoria block in Assam. He studies in Class – VI and lives in a joint family where he is the eldest of the children. He has a brother and a sister and is quite close to them. Like any other 12 year old, he is naughty and friendly. Unlike every other 12 year old, he is deaf.

This invisible disability separates Rituraj from the boys he plays with. He ‘looks’ completely normal, his life is far from it.

He struggles to understand little things that would be common sense to a hearing child. It has nothing to do with his intelligence quotient.

Rituraj is one of the children that Swabalambi, VAANI’s partner in Assam works with. His mother, grandmother and his paternal uncle (father’s elder brother) are the three people who closely follow his trainings. They are also the ones who take training from CBR worker Bipin to communicate properly with Rituraj.

Though Rituraj’s mother identified his deafness when he was around four years old and still did not speak, Swabalambi got involved with him only when he was nine years old. While working with him, the Swabalambi team realised that while Rituraj was not adept at communicating all his thoughts, he was a very fast learner. Rituraj tries to talk, but his speech is limited. He signs and he follows the sign language well, but he loves to draw to express himself.

He is now good with numbers, words and short sentences and uses the teaching aids comfortably to answer and ask questions. His school is very sensitive to the fact that he is deaf. His teachers know the Swabalambi team and seek assistance whenever they have a problem communicating with Rituraj. He is allowed to sit in front and with friends with whom he tends to communicate more.

Even his community members and family members are very supportive and enthusiastic of the intervention made by VAANI. The fact that he now communicates with his family and friends is an unexpected bonus for them. They have extended all their support to ensure that Rituraj gets his rights and is able to live a life that is comfortable, rewarding and fulfilling, for himself and for others around him.

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