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Dec 19, 2016

Victory!

Thank You for Recognizing my rights
Thank You for Recognizing my rights

We apologize this reaches you slightly later than usual. But we were busy working, praying, and hoping the hardest we ever have in the past 19 years!

In all of our 19 years of working for children and adults with deafblindness and before that – deafblindness has never been officially recognized as a disability by the government of India. This exclusion denied them equal rights as citizens, access to resources and any form of substantial government support. However, at 2.11pm on December 16, 2016, everything changed.

By passing the "The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill – 2016," replacing the existing 21-year-old PwD Act - 1995, the government of India finally, officially included and recognized deafblindness as a disability. We are ecstatic.

Although this is only a beginning, this is a huge victory for people with deafblindness in India, Sense International India and you, too!

For 19 years we have been working our hardest to ensure identified children with deafblindness receive the best training and services we can offer to help them live a better life. But none of this would have been possible without your unending support to our cause.

Every donation is disbursed across the country to aid our beneficiaries while also helping build awareness through effective advocacy. By being included in Bill, deafblind children and adults will be finally counted in official census! This data will help us build a stronger case for our beneficiaries, by helping them gain visibility and access to a wider network of resources.

We ask that you continue to be our friends as we step into deeper waters and take bigger risks to ensure no child with deafblindness is left behind. Your support will help us tread fearlessly in the days to come as we build a stronger world for people with deafblindness.

Thank You for all that you do!

Sep 2, 2016

Fw: The road less travelled - a Sense India educator's journey

Educators Beginning to Climb the Hill.JPG
Educators Beginning to Climb the Hill.JPG

 




From: Daniella Ayesha
Sent: 02 September 2016 01:51
To: report20789@globalgiving.org
Subject: The road less travelled – a Sense India educator’s journey
 

 

The road less travelled – a Sense India educator’s journey.

Taking the road less travelled isn’t new to those who work for children and adults with deafblindness. And at Sense India, especially, we have passionate individuals who will no-matter-how-far or treacherous the journey, ensure that a child with deafblindness receives essential care and services. As I write this directly from the field, from the house of a child with deafblindness, I cannot find better words to describe how we got here.

Twice every week, just like today, our two member team (a physiotherapist and special educator) hop on to a 45-minute bus ride from Sulthan Bathery in Wayanad, Kerala to provide services to Sreemanthini, a 6-year-old tribal girl who has deafblindness and cerebral palsy. She lives in a tiny tribal hamlet deep in of one of the many dense forests here in Wayanad. When we arrive, our educators immediately slip their cellphones into their bags as there’s hardly any network. A thin tar road with dense foliage on each side marks the entry into the hamlet but about 50 meters in, it disappears. And a twisty path made by footprints frequently flattening wild creepers, grass and mud begins. Another 50 meters in, we spot deer tracks in one of the prettiest valleys I have ever seen. It is raining; the lush paddy fields in front of us are surrounded by deep emerald hills. All of this looks like soothing computer wallpaper. But as I soak the sights in, I can’t help but wonder where the houses are.

When we pass a beautiful patch of ginger fields, I spot a small brick house. “That’s not Sreemanthini’s house…,” our special educator Shaniba informs me, “…that is,” she says pointing to a cluster of trees atop a hill. From the foothills, because of the dense forest carpet, it is impossible to calculate the height and structure we are about to climb.

We begin our trek through muddy streams and moss covered rocks, slowly. My city-slick feet fail me often causing me to slip and tumble. But I tread on, following our educators. We silently follow each other as the rain manages to get us even through the dense green cover above. After what seems like hours but is about 45 minutes, we reach a tiny clearing. A small mud house with blue plastic sheet covering it, welcomes us. At its bamboo door, Shaniba announces in Malayalam that we’ve arrived while the rest of us pick leeches off our feet. A thin, malnourished young lady opens the door with a bundle of dangling feet in her arms.

“This is Sreemanthini and her mother,” says Shaniba introducing us. At this point of time, my mind is all over the place. Shaniba explains to Sreemanthini’s mother that I will be taking a few pictures of her and her baby. Her voice is frail as she gives us her approval.

Shaniba takes Sreemanthini, who is fast asleep,in her arms. She informs us both mum and baby have been unwell for several weeks owing to the damp weather but Sreemanthini has been regularly receiving physiotherapy.

My eyes wander to the path we took to get here and I cannot imagine how both the educators make it up here twice a week, sun or rain.

With all the chatter, Sreemanthini wakes up and Shaniba coos into her ears. Sreemanthini lets out a bright smile, recognizing her educator. As she has low vision and hardly any hearing, Shaniba speaks loudly into her ears constantly saying, “Sreemanthini.” Shaniba explains she does this so that Sreemanthini begins to learn her name and respond to it. Shaniba then continues to prop her up with her hands as support. Due to cerebral palsy, Sreemanthini cannot sit up straight on her own just yet.

But my mind is still fixated at the journey we just made. We’ve walked for over an hour and a half after hopping off the bus, including the trek we just made. We are in a thick jungle – a tiger reserve full of elephants, bison and bears, too. Our feet have trails of blood from the leeches we plucked yet both our educators are smiling, doing their job and I didn’t hear even one of them complain about how far or truly dangerous this journey is. All they talked about was about different therapy strategies they would like to try. So that one day, maybe, Sreemanthini could sit on her own.

At Sense India, our educators, therapists and caregivers in over 22 states choose to tread roads that one would never take, to find children we would never see and build a futures that none could ever imagine. When you donate to us, no matter what the amount, every penny makes its way up mountains to serve children like Sreemanthini. Thank You for believing in us. 


 

Sreemanthini with her mother.jpg
Sreemanthini with her mother.jpg
Sreemanthini with her parents.JPG
Sreemanthini with her parents.JPG
Sreemanthinis Backyard.JPG
Sreemanthinis Backyard.JPG
Sreemanthini's House.JPG
Sreemanthini's House.JPG
Thin Tar Road to the hamlet.JPG
Thin Tar Road to the hamlet.JPG
Shaniba calling out to Sreemanthini.JPG
Shaniba calling out to Sreemanthini.JPG
Jun 3, 2016

Deafblind Can Dream and Make Them a Reality Too!

John, his dreams and reality
John, his dreams and reality

Deafblind can dream and make it a reality, too!
Hi, my name is John and I sign my name with the letter J. I am 27-years-old and deafblind. I can see better with my glasses and hear only loud sounds with the help of a hearing aid. I live with my family in New Delhi. My father Mr R. K. Swamy works in a government canteen, my mother Ms Annamal works in a hotel as a helper and my wife Kasturi and I run a small coffee shop together at the National Association for the Blind in Delhi. 
My life was not always like this. Until a few years ago, I couldn’t even dress, bathe or even eat on my own. I didn’t even know how to sign my name. My father was very concerned about my present and our future. When I was 7-years-old, my parents enrolled me into Sense India’s deafblind program at their partner organization, the National Association for the Blind in New Delhi. 
Here, the educators introduced me to the world. 
They taught me daily living skills and to count. As I love to draw, my educator even found a way to teach me how to communicate through line drawing, pictures and written words using simple word signs in between. My family did not realize how this would change our lives forever.  
With every new discovery my confidence grew and I wanted to learn more, understand more. I can illustrate this by an incident that occurred a couple of years ago. During a training organized by Sense India, my father and I were attended a workshop on vocational training and livelihoods. Here, all those accompanying deafblind adults were supposed to interpret the session using sign language to the deafblind adult. But my father and I sat quietly in a corner.  The trainer asked my father why he wasn’t helping me understand the session he dryly replied that I know nothing and barely respond to him so it wouldn’t matter if he interpreted or not. The trainer didn’t give up. When the time came to put our dreams to paper, I began drawing out every detail line after line.
The trainer smiled and asked me to explain. I pointed to the boy in the picture and signed “John,” and to the girl in the picture, I signed “my wife.” There was another photograph below this, I pointed to it and signed, “coffee selling.” My father couldn’t believe his eyes and was teary-eyed full of joy. 
Fast-forward to September 2, 2015 and I’m married! And the best part? We run a small coffee shop together, too! 
My life has transformed and I am a confident person using gestures and signs to communicate. And I am filled with pride and joy when someone entrusts me with responsibilities. Because I CAN!

Edited for John by Daniella Ayesha

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