Master Rahul is eight years old and is a resident of Madanayakanahalli, Nelamangala Taluk, Bangalore Rural. He is the second child of Mr & Mrs. Prabhakar and was born with multiple health issues. His father is a daily wage coolie (labourer) and his mother is a home-maker. Rahul was an unplanned child but his parents decided to go ahead with the pregnancy, as they believed it was a symbol of luck for Mrs Prabhakar to have conceived after a gap of 10 years.
When Rahul was born, his parents were so delighted, and they celebrated with their family. But their joy was shortlived with news from the doctors that their child had several complications with his heart and nervous system. He was kept under observation in the ICU for days, and slowly began to respond to treatment. Just when they thought they had turned the corner, Rahul’s parents were delivered another shock 4 months later, when they discovered that Rahul was deaf. The started on the long road to remedial help, and began to spend their meagre savings on medical intervention.
As Rahul’s health started to stabilize, he was enrolled at an Anganwadi center at the age of 4, after which he was enrolled at a government school nearby at the age of 6. He was getting used to going to school but his parents were not happy about the education he was receiving there. The government school teacher had no special training in how to handle a deaf child in the class, so Rahul just sat at the back of the class and marked attendance.
Once VAANI began to make its presence felt in the area, the school reached out to Ms. Triveni, a VAANI Community Mobilizer. She visited Rahul’s home and convinced his parents to go to the one-room Sadhan Resource Center. Rahul is a regular now and his parents reminisce about the day they first visited the Center. When they first set eyes on Hemamalini, the Master Trainer of the SRC, they got were convinced they were in the right place, and were filled with hope and faith that their child would be able to communicate like everyone else.
Rahul’s skill levels were assessed as per the VAANI orientation program, and based on his abilities, an Individual Education Plan was charted out for him. His mother tells us that from the day he was born till the day he first entered the Sadhan Resource Center, he could only vocalize one word in Kannada, “Aa” – the very first vowel in the Kannada alphabet. He would use that sound for everything he wanted to say, and it was up to his mother to interpret what he really meant. After continuous joint efforts by the team at the Sadhan Resource Center and Rahul’s mother, he has learnt to vocalise from Aa (single vowel sound) to Aha (part vowel-part consonant sound) in Kannada. The process of learning is continuous and we can see the relief and satisfaction in his mother’s face. Even the teachers at his school have given positive feedback, saying that he can now write the Kannada alphabets from Ah to Aha with no difficulties. They have also assured the Community Mobilizer that if they find any kids with hearing impairment, they would immediately refer them to VAANI’s Sadhan Resource Center.