Just in case you are not able to see this video, please click here.
Imagine a child born without a basic faculty of hearing...something that we take for granted. Imagine a world where the dance party, loud music, sounds of traffic or chirping of the birds do not evince any interest. Imagine a world where the shouts, cries and laughters are mere visual gesticulations with no emotional chord for someone without the ability to hear them.
I happened to visit such a school for deaf and mute in our city, and it was the recess time. There were hundreds of children who were quitely running around, some just sitting on a bench and stairing at the moving figures, others quitely standing along a pole, while a few sat under a tree... trying to talk to each other in sign language.
Their condition moved the Rotarians of Rotary Club of Chandigarh to start a project last year with the support of The Rotary Foundation under its matching grant with Rotary Club of Charlotte, USA, as partner, to not only provide cochlear implant where possible but also extensively examine the children in schools to detect hearing loss and provide hearing aids to them.
President Hassan Singh Mejie and Secretary Desh Deepak Khanna along with another member of the club who is a trained audiologist and speech therapist, Rtn. Ritu Chaudhary, came across Patiala School for Deaf, and found that many of the children with hearing impairment had been abandoned by their parents.
Most heart rending part is that during vacations there are many children who have nowhere to go and they stay put in the school's hostel, informed Col. Karminder Singh, Director of Patiala School for the Deaf, and if some of these children can be treated to overcome this physical disability, they would be able to enter the society's mainstream, he added.
The team of Rotarians visited earlier to the school and Rtn. Ritu Chaudhary identified 24 such children who had moderate to severe hearing loss and could possibly hear the sound with the help of hearing aides.
On Tuesday, 17th December, the team drove 80kms through the early morning fog to the school, re-examined them and fitted them appropriate hearing aides.
Though the children would start hearing the sound but would require the support and coaching by a trained audiologist to help them understand various sounds and learn to decipher them and use their vocal chords too, because the deaf students are also mute and can learn to speak only after they hear various sounds, informed Rtn Ritu Chaudhary.
The children after receiving their hearing aids were ecastic and jumped with excitement on hearing the world around them, and once they get to develop their speaking abilities and understand language, they would be able to enjoy their life more fully, Rtn Desh Deepak Khanna said.
According to an estimate, over 24 million children suffer from this debilitating disability and nearly 1 lakh babies are born every year with profound hearing loss. This project would change lives of many such children who have partial hearing loss, he added.
We spent 90-minutes of our drive back home almost silently; perhaps each one of us was quitely expressing our gratitude to the Almighty for giving us the opportunity to change these little lives, Pres. Hassan S. Mejie said.