Isn’t it quite heartening to learn that Tristan of Ireland, a piano and guitar player, gave charity shows and Australian Sian, an NGO worker and a freelance journalist, made 50-60 cakes a day and sold them with greeting cards painted by her to raise rupees seven lakh for children of school for the deaf and dumb in far away Udaipur?
Opening of the 34 year old school for the deaf and dumb children has an interesting story. The effort of Udaipur’s renowned surgeon Dr. R.K Agarwal brought a glimmer of hope in the gloomy lives of such children. Dr. Agarwal found an orphan child in M.B hospital. He adopted him. The child turned out to be deaf and dumb. For the education of such children, Dr.Agarwal opened a school with the help of some noble people and social workers like Dr. Yashwant Khothari, Dr. Bhandari, Dr. Kailash Rai and others.
With three deaf children, the school started in july 1977 in a room near Hanuman Temple, Sardarpura from where it was shifted to two rooms in Theosophical Society at Siksha Bhawan round-about. Virendra Kumar Singh of Kanpur was the first teacher.
In 1983, the school moved to its own building at O.T.C Scheme, Amba Mata. At present the total strength of the school is 156 students which include 132 boys and 24 girls.
The school has a different type of syllabus from general schools. After four years of education and training, students come to class one. During this period they are taught how to recognize things by touching and tasting them and lip reading.
The age for admission is 5 to 20 years. When the students comes to class 9th, they cover the secondary (9th and 10th) course in 3 years. The two-years general course is divided into 3 parts for them. They are exempted from English and Sanskrit. From class one to eight, they follow a common syllabus.
To cater to the special needs of these children, specially trained teachers are required. The teachers here have taken a specifically designed training at Lucknow. A lot of hard work is to be put in to educate such children. As they cannot listen, everything has to be repeatedly explained which may at times become a bit irritating. If a child is standing at some distance one cannot call him by shouting. There is a greater need of physical labour too. Of course, patience is an important quality to teach such children.
The school admits only those students who cannot hear and speak. For admission to the school, a certificate to this effect has to be submitted. Facility of holding a test is also available in the school itself.
Some people inherit these handicaps whereas some others come into this category due to accidents in their later life. Due to lack of awareness, parents especially in rural areas do not educate their handicapped children. So one of the aims of this institution is to survey neighboring areas, locate such persons and then persuade their families to send them to school.
Dedicated to the welfare of deaf children, Viklang Kalyan Samiti, Udaipur was formed in 1977. It is actively serving the cause of special children. It is the first of its kind in Mewar region of Rajasthan. Several noble citizens of the town and social workers like Dr. Yashwant Singh Kothari, Dr. R.K Agarwal, Sahil Singhal and S.N Prasad are its institutional members.
The institution gets 100% govt. grant for its eleven employees and some other specified expenses. Social welfare department gives grants for hostel expenses for ten months. All this is inadequate to meet the full expenditure. Corporate and some others trusts such as Hindusthan Zinc and Jindal Trust, Delhi contribute regularly. So do some other individuals and organizations.
For the development of total personality, a variety of extra-curricular activities like football, volleyball, table tennis, carom, and race are organized. Students are trained in these activities to enable them to perform better in competitions held in Udaipur as well as outside. Programmes like plays and dances, are organized on festival and occasions like World Handicapped Day, Gandhi Jayanti, Basant Panchmi, annual function etc. The students are also taken on educational tours.
The students here were fortunate that they came in contact with Rafe Bullick, a Seva mandir volunteer in 1997. Rafe could bring a smile on their faces, even as their hearing and speech disabilities held the ever looming threat of marring and draining the life quotient away from their undignified lives.
Rafe visited the school and found that between curriculum classes, meals and vocational training classes, these children had no source of entertainment. Since the children were free on Sunday, he arranged for an old van at seva mandir and took the children out for the ride around town to fateh sagar and Sajjangarh and the much looked for to games and sporting matches. But fate snatched away Rafe forever in a landmine explosion in October, 2004.
A student said so aptly, ‘Rafe ke baad sab game khatam’ (all games stopped after left). However, volunteers from seva mandir have resumed visiting the school. Sophia Browne, a volunteer from Britain said that they involve the children in group projects which utilize and enhance their creativity, require them to work as a team and allow them to plan, design and execute an activity from the start through the finished product. Painting appears to be a popular choices.
The vocational Training Centre imparts training in carpentry, plumbing, electric wiring, gardening, cooking etc. A large number of students have got fairly good jobs in govt. and private companies. On the campus is also a school for the mentally retarded children.
The future plans includes a girl’s play grounds, bigger library and a reading room, rehabilitation centre, hostel for mentally retarded children and dining hall and exhibition and conference hall. We wish philanthropists come forward to show that these children are important smart, capable, powerful and meaningful.