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Rinki gets the right support to communicate

Published Date: 30 Jan 2020
Photo: Rinki dancing and laughing outside her family home.

When children are diagnosed as deaf in many parts of India, parents are often left in the dark on how to help their child. Rinki, 14 was diagnosed as deaf when she was 1, the doctor turned her parents away after the diagnosis; unable to help. When she was school age, her parents sent her to the mainstream school, hoping she could learn and make friends.

Rinki sat alone, unable to learn the alphabet and how to read and write like the hearing children. Rinki used to copy letters on to the paper, but the letters on the page meant nothing to her and not only did the children ignore her but the teachers did too.

“I couldn’t talk, my world was in silence, I was alone all the time” said Rinki.

Through our partnership with Citizens Association for rural development (CARD), one of our partners working in Ganjam and Gajapati districts of Odisha, India, the family were introduced to a community rehabilitation worker and a deaf role model. The community rehabilitation worker and the deaf role model have helped firstly by supporting Rinki’s parents, both laborers, by introducing them to a parents’ support group for deaf children.

Even though both parents are illiterate, they are supported by other members of the group and have helped the parents gain a disability pension (Panchayat). The parents are encouraged by working alongside Predeep, the deaf role model as they see how far he has come in life, married, in employment, happy and confident.

Rinki, once shy and unwilling to learn how to communicate has now built a special relationship with both her community rehabilitation worker and deaf role model, they have all worked together for two years. Together with weekly support, Rinki and Rinki’s sister have learnt India Sign Language and they now teach their parents.

“Predeep, is deaf like me, he is my favourite person to spend time with, he knows all the signs and I can have the most meaningful conversations with him” comments Rinki.

Photo: Rinki and her deaf role model signing together outside her family home

Jayanti, Rinki’s community rehabilitation worker helps support Rinki by educating her on general knowledge covering personal health and hygiene as well as helping her understand social etiquette to help form friendships and develop relationships; all helping to build her confidence as she understands more about her deaf rights. Jayatni works with Rinki’s parents to encourage them to keep her in school, and offering support outside the classroom.

“Every month, I fix a plan for Rinki and her family to ensure they keep learning topics in the home, I give them visual learning materials to help support them as they build on their sign language. I involve Rinki in discussions with her parents when it comes to her development and future so that Rinki has a say” adds Jayanti.

Rinki’s father added “I have no sons, so I am building Rinki like my son, I am pushing to keep her in education, this is for her protection and to make sure she doesn’t come into any trouble. After school, we will find employment for Rinki so she can physically and emotionally support herself and her family.

“We hope Rinki will be self-dependent. We parents, will not live forever so Rinki must develop and be able to look after herself.”