Yesterday was one of the most memorable day of my life.I was called by one teacher of the deaf schools on Sunday.She told me that she had heard me relate my story in children's welfare institution a few months back and also heard Prisha speak.She asked me to come to her deaf school where children from villages studied.Most of the 150 odd students were living in hostel.As the parents were coming to pick them up , she wanted me to speak with them to make them understand what hard work with the deaf child can do and inspire them.I was sceptical and as I wasn't well I was trying to excuse myself.But the way she pleaded I decided to go.
I was a bit nervous as I was not sure what I was getting into.I knew the visit to a deaf school where there would be only children who have no hearing aids, no speech and would be using sign language and there would be mostly sad stories. The other thing that worried me was the harsh reality would make me see how my life would have been had I not met Mrs. Alaka Hudlikar.
I drove down to the school and 2 teachers waited for me outside the school. I walked in and the school was clean well maintained and the children were mostly from villages.The teachers were very warm and gave me much respect.They asked me to relate my story and focus more on the importance of hearing aids as most people never bought them.The children used aids given by school and then left them back.Most could not speak and used sign language.I spoke to the parents about 50 of them along with about 15 odd teachers. I spoke for about 30 mins and really tried to go down to the level of the people who were mostly from the villages and spoke marathi language.I used the most simple examples and tried to touch their emotions to show them the importance of hearing aids, speech therapy and the need to communicate in the language of the masses which is certainly not sign language.They all listened but the expressions were mixed.Some genuinely understood , some gave me blank look and some listened to it as it was a lecture from school.It was really sad as these people have , I think given up and accepted that this was a way of life.To add to it life in the villages is tough.For them it would be unnecessary expenditure to buy aids and to spend energy on the child was beyond imagination.I told them how hearing aids are like spectacles of the ears and needed to be there as they helped them to connect to the world.I requested them to not to buy that necklace for the wife and paint the house this festival and instead spend 7000 Rs on aids to help the child.The teachers came and told me about their stories how children steal the batteries of pocket model aids, cut the wire, stole them etc.I felt it was largely due to the fact they were not used to the world of sound, it was unnecessary disturbance and it made no sense to them to hang them in the ears as sound has no meaning for them. The principal said that she would like me to come to them again and speak again to parents.I requested her to be specific to new parents that admission would be given to little kids only if aids were worn by the kids.I felt the place was being used by the parents to leave the kids there as they were a burden.The teachers work hard. I could get their point of view that if they closed such centres for kids , these kids would not have any mode of communication as in villages they had no education and schools for them.AVT does not exist in this world.It was a very heart wrenching and eye opening experience.I felt more educated than the teachers as Mrs. Hudlikar has taught us the art of AVT which has brought normalcy in our lives.The teachers talked to me of their problems and it made me realize how fortunate I have been. They gifted me flowers made of cloth made by the students.They wanted to reimburse my visit expenses which I refused.How could I even think of it when here they are waiting for donors to help them fund aids.The warmth and awe that I received was so over whelming and it was a very humbling experience.If called I would go there again.
I came back thanking God for showing me how much He loves me.I am in a position to buy the best aids for my girl, give her education in the best school, got speech therapy from the best teacher possible and above all for giving me the strength , the mind, intelligence and will power to work on my Prisha.It is because of Ma'am that I am able to stand up and feel confident of helping others.I feel it is my duty to share the knowledge that I have received.If it wasn't for Priya Kshirsagar,who showed me the way to ma'am's classes, I would have been still running around looking for solutions to my problems.The sight of empty eyes of some children and parents haunts me.I really wish government in India could do more and help bring light in the life of deaf children.I wish awareness of deafness was there, every child could be be tested for deafness at birth, hearing aids could be made available at subsidised rates, AVT was practised and every child could speak and there were more happy families