Why do we choose to do what we do? What really influences that choice? Different people find their calling through different paths. Some people find it while taking life’s challenges head on.
Hemamalini Balaji used to be a lecturer in Economics at the Government College in Bangalore. In 1998, she had a baby girl, Lakshmi. At first everything seemed normal. Then she began to realise that Lakshmi was not responding to sounds. She promptly took her to an ENT specialist and was referred to the Dr. S. R. Chandrasekhar Institute of Speech & Hearing. They diagnosed Lakshmi as profoundly deaf. Upon their advice she was enrolled in the special school at the Institute where she received speech therapy.
Hemamalini was allowed to accompany Lakshmi only during the preschool years. She felt that she needed to accompany her for a lot longer to see significant change. But sadly the institute flat-out refused. Hemamalini’s solution to this was to do a course at the institute itself. She enrolled herself for a Diploma in Special Education after which she pursued a B. Ed. degree in the Karnataka Open University. She used all this new gained knowledge to train her daughter after school hours. She was relentlessly disciplined.
Dr. S. R. Chandrasekhar Institute of Speech & Hearing was very impressed with Hemamalini’s passion and offered her a job as a Special Educator. She worked there for 8 years, teaching children from preschool up to 10th std. Lakshmi, meanwhile, got training from her mother every day and began to excel at class. She was enrolled in a mainstream school along with hearing kids and she secured 79% in her PUC Board exams and topped in her class. She is now in college and aspires to become a Chartered Accountant!
Hemamalini is now a Trainer at VAANI and is doing everything she can to share her experiences and knowledge with the deaf community. It is mothers such as Hemamalini who encourage other mums and dads of deaf kids not to lose hope, and inspire them to dream big for their children.