If you have been following our blog or heard us talk about our work, you might know that the pinnacle of our work is reached when parents of our deaf children take the initiative to be leaders in their own communities. We have one such story to share with you.
Muslima Bibi is a young mother of three. She lives in a little village near Malancha, 56km from Kolkata. Four years after she had her second son she discovered that he was deaf. She spent the next four years going from one facility to another across the state but was unable to find the right kind of help. The pain of not being able to communicate with her child was growing. She eventually heard about Vaani and decided to pay us a visit. Just around that time she had her second son who she later found out was deaf too. She has been bringing both her deaf sons to the Vaani Sadhan Resource Centre in Kolkata diligently despite having to travel 3 hours one way for each trip.
Once the news about finding the right kind of services for her children spread across her village, other parents of deaf children began to approach her for details. But for most of them, the 3-hour travel was too much. Muslima began to see the need for such services in her village and decided to take the initiative. Little over a year ago, she approached Vaani to start services in Malancha. She offered up her cowshed as space and identified 4 other deaf children who would attend. Vaani started sending her 1 Teacher of the Deaf for 1 day of the week. And just 11 months later, she had 22 deaf kids enrolled!
For months she made it work under the cowshed. But it really was just a cowshed. It was unsecured and had no doors that could be locked. After each day’s lesson, Muslima would lock all the teaching and learning materials in a box and keep it away in her house. She would also unhook the fan and light so that it would not be stolen. During the rains, the roof would leak and damage the toys and materials. Muslima and the other parents expressed their wishes to have a pucca structure and expanding it to accommodate the growing numbers. They also wanted to make their Link Centre a self-reliant one.
We took Muslima’s story of courage and initiative to prospective donors. Soon enough, the Rajni Nijhawan Charitable Trust picked up on it. They were so moved by the story that they decided to fund the entire renovation of the cowshed and a second room to accommodate the growing numbers.
This two-year long journey has been one of the most gratifying and reassuring experiences. It proves to us that if we persevere, our beneficiaries will take our work forward themselves. It is always lovely to see parents take the initiative to give back to their communities. It nurtures a sense of camaraderie and lets every parent know that they aren’t alone in their struggles. We’re hopeful of what the future holds for the deaf children of Malancha. Without the generous support of the Rajni Nijhawan Charitable Trust, Muslima’s dream would not have materialised.