Bipin (left) with one of his students
Bipin Das is a Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) worker working with deaf children for the past five years. He works with Swabalambi, a partner of VAANI – Deaf Children’s Foundation working out of the Dimoria Block in Assam.
Swabalambi is a cross-disability organisation and so, as Bipin puts it very simply, “Before VAANI’s intervention, a disability was a disability, and I never thought a deaf child needs any kind of special attention among other disabled children.” As time passed, he realised it was tough to get his message across to the deaf child. He used gestures to communicate, but often ended up frustrated because he did not know what to do. Today, it comes naturally to him to understand that fear, insecurity, isolation and loss of confidence form part of the attitude of a deaf child. He understands that a deaf child is different from other disabled children and needs individual attention.
It is not an easy task to keep at the task at hand day in and day out. A lot of effort in teaching a deaf child yields very little response. A teacher is disheartened when the student does not do well. Though experience has brought down the frustration in Bipin, he keeps thinking of new ways to tackle every problem he faces in communicating with his students. At the end of the day, a supportive family and an empathetic community goes a long way in restoring his confidence in the cause he is working for.
Bipin has undergone training in Screening Strategies and Identification, Building of Communication Skills, Usage of Teaching and Learning Material for Language Evaluation, Sensitisation and Awareness and Documentation as well, as part of the training by VAANI’s.
Bipin has been working with disability for the past five years. It surprises him today to think that even to him, deafness was invisible once. “Now I realise the communication gap, with the parents, peer group, community and the world around them. It is my job to bridge this gap.”
It is easy to spot the camaraderie between Bipin and 12 year old Rituraj, one of his students. It took Bipin quite some time to earn Rituraj’s trust, but now they are fast friends. A huge grin spreads across the boy’s face as he sees his teacher approach. Rituraj is a naughty child, says the teacher affectionately. A friendly kid, he has a cricket team of 10-12 boys and they play regularly. He is also the much loved eldest son of a joint family comprising of the families of three brothers and one sister.
Bipin has made an arrangement with Rituraj’s school to let him be part of his learning process. He attends school with Rituraj once a week. The teachers and the principal seek his help if they have any problems communicating with Rituraj. He speaks to every new teacher to sensitise them to Rituraj’s situation.
Human beings are social animals. We all know that. To be social, one has to communicate. Most of us do not realise that hearing is the stimulus which creates the need in us to communicate. How does a child live a normal life without being social? It is people like Bipin who have understood how isolation affects children who are deaf, and are working hard to bring communication into their lives.