Ghulam is nine years old. He lives in Pandua in Hooghly district of West Bengal with his parents and two sisters. Ghulam was born deaf. Ghulam’s father is an alcoholic and has sold Ghulam’s hearing aids to satisfy his addiction. Ghulam’s mother earns Rs.150 per month as a cook.
When his mother first took him for admission to a general school close to their house, the teachers there told her that there was no point in granting him admission as he could not hear, and would not be able to understand what was being taught in class. Ghulam’s mother was heartbroken.
Pandua Pratibandhi Kalyan Samity( PPKS), an NGO that works with deaf children in the Hooghly district of West Bengal, stepped in and insisted on admission for Ghulam. They made it possible for him to attend school three days a week. On the other days of the week he attends classes at PPKS.
Ghulam first came in touch with VAANI when he and his mother attended a VAANI training programme conducted at the PPKS. Through various programmes, the VAANI special educator teaches Ghulam’s mother and the community workers at PPKS different ways to communicate with Ghulam and other deaf children. Participants in VAANI’s programmes learn to use different techniques to teach deaf children to read and write. . Other people in his community have now started understanding what deafness means and are trying to communicate with him.
Ghulam is a bright child and is also good in sports, and he has made a lot of friends in school. He has learnt the days of the week using sign language His mother now communicates with him verbally and uses sign language as well, though she finds it difficult to sign as she has arthritis.
The teachers in the school never gave Ghulam homework as he could not understand what needed to be done, and also because he does not have electricity at home. Ghulam kicked up a row and insisted that the teachers give him homework, just like for the other students.
Ghulam now sits under a streetlight and completes his work!