Deaf Awareness Week is celebrated worldwide usually in the last week of September, with World Deaf Day on the last Saturday in September every year. VAANI celebrated Deaf Awareness Week from September 24 to September 30, 2012 in Assam, West Bengal, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Jharkhand – all the States in which we have projects. The theme for the activities planned during the week was ‘Together we can’.
During this week VAANI organised events for deaf children and their families to enjoy themselves. VAANI staff also conducted training workshops for families of deaf children, and for professionals who work with deaf children. VAANI also spread awareness about this invisible disability among the wider community through various activities and programmes.
VAANI believes that communication between deaf children and their families, their peers and their teachers is of prime importance. Accordingly, all activities that were planned for this week stressed on different means of communication with deaf children. The importance this year was on coming together to make a difference, creating partnerships and building networks.
A significant part of DAW celebrations has always remained the VAANI Family Day. A large section of parents of deaf children do not learn to communicate with their deaf children. VAANI organises Family Days annually with all the groups of deaf children we work with, as an opportunity for them to bond with their parents, leave their worries behind, and have fun together. It is also a platform for parents of deaf children to share their experiences and connect with each other.
In Assam, the DAW celebrations started early with VAANI participating in a seminar organised by the Government Deaf School in Kahilipara on 22 September. The topic was “Communication Options for the Deaf” and it served as a great platform for VAANI to spread awareness on this topic.
On 23 September, All India Radio – Assamese, broadcasted a piece at 7:15 am mentioning the significance of the activities being organised by VAANI as part of the DAW celebrations.
Assam hosted four Family Days in Nagaon, Kamrup, Nalbari and Guwahati.
In Nagaon, VAANI has been working with the SSA and was happy to have this opportunity to provide a fun-filled day to the deaf students and their parents. On 27 September, around 97 participants, including deaf children and parents, came from 8 blocks to spend a day filled with activities like an art competition for the children, spoon and marble race and musical chair for the parents and well as the children. The prizes were distributed by the DPO of Nagaon as human puppets dressed as famous cartoon characters entertained the children the whole day.
For the Kamrup district, Family Day was held on 29 September for about 100 participants in association with our local partner organisation Swabalambi. The day was spent at the Assam State Zoo where a magic show enthralled the children. The day began with a “Go as You Like” where children were dressed in various costumes which added to the various fun games that had been organised for them.
In Guwahati, on 1 October, VAANI held a special screening of the movie Barfi! for around 200 people including deaf children, their families and a few friends and well-wishers of VAANI. The free screening was held at GOLD Cinema, L.G.Towers, Narangi Tiniali, Guwahati, at 10.30 am. “Barfi!” being one of the movies that has dealt with the issues of deafness so sensitively, VAANI thought it apt to celebrate the spirit of the movie this way. This has been a very thoughtful gesture by GOLD Cinema.
The celebrations continued till 2 October, when VAANI partner SAROTHI at Nalbari organised Family Day with a cultural programme and an art competition for the deaf children and their families in their district.
In Meghalaya, Family Day was celebrated on 27 September with the deaf children of the School and Centre for Hearing Handicapped Children, Shillong. A magic show was held for the children. The children put up a cultural programme on 28 September, displaying their talents and enjoying every bit of the attention being showered on them by the audience. On 29 September, an educational trip was arranged by the school to the Don Bosco Museum where the children learnt about history, art and science among various other things. The school also organised a get together for the parents of deaf children in Massar with community games and lunch. The day turned out to be educational as well as fun for all the participants.
The Spastic Society of Mizoram (one of our local partners in Mizoram), organised friendship games between the deaf children of SSOM and students of two other regular schools of Aizawl on 24 September. On 26 September, SSOM organised an awareness activity for the government doctors and audiologists in Mizoram.
Ferrando Integrated Women Development Centre (Peace Home) organised an awareness drive by distributing leaflets, posters and flags to truck drivers, working people and general public on 25 and 26 September to give visibility to the cause of childhood deafness.
A day of games and entertainment marked Family Day that was observed on 27 September. FIWDC organised a picnic for the deaf children and their parents. Two newly identified deaf children were taken to the audiologists on 28 September for their audiological tests, after which the audiologists donated hearing aids to them. These were children from the areas we work in and cannot afford hearing aids.
Training workshops were organised for parents of deaf children during the week in Jharkhand through our partners Sindurtola Gramodaya Vikas Vidyalaya (SGVV) on 22 and 23 September and Nav Bharat Jagriti Kendra (NBJK) on 27 September.
Two representatives from each VAANI partner in the East came together on 24 September for 2 days of interaction with each other at the VAANI Annual Partners’ Meet – East.
Family Day was hosted by NBJK in Hazaribagh and Dumka on 28 September. In Dumka, a painting competition was organised. In Hazaribagh, the day was spent at the Hazaribagh Cafeteria which is an amusement park. About 50 parents participated in the programme. The CBR workers from NBJK had brought along toys for the children to play. One of the parents decided to sponsor the toy train ride and some others took the opportunity to interact with VAANI’s consultant and shared their experiences with her.
On 24 September, VAANI, in association with Sarva Shiksha Mission organised its first Family Day in Siliguri. A painting competition was organised and the children and their parents were taken to the North Bengal Science Museum for an educational tour. There were about 120 participants including deaf children, their parents and SSM workers.
In Kolkata, VAANI celebrated DAW by taking 160 people, including deaf children and families for a Family Day at the Alipore Zoo on 26 September. The children were awestruck when looking at the animals which they had only seen in pages of their books. A lot of signing went on between the children as they spotted one animal after another whose signs they now knew by heart. What made their day special was when one of the baby giraffes broke into a dance, and jumped around in excitement seeing so many happy faces around its cage.
A group of parents of deaf children met on 29 September for a session on the need for networking and the formation of support groups to help them in bringing up their deaf children. Over 60 parents attended this meeting. This was VAANI’s first Annual Parents’ Meet in Kolkata. Frank Anthony Public School very generously allowed VAANI to use its auditorium, which was abuzz with parents sharing their experiences with each other enthusiastically. The need for coming together to fight for the rights of their deaf children was voiced and it was great to see parents exchanging numbers to make sure they kept in touch.