Anwesha, a young, highly energetic girl of 6 years from Bara Gagan Gohalia village, gets very excited when she meets someone for the first time. She loves to play with colours and crayons and immediately brings out her drawing book to show it to the visitor. Unlike many other girls of her age, Anwesha cannot recite a poem or sing a song – she is unable to speak or hear.
The affectionate mother of Anwesha noticed that she does not respond to any kind of sound that generally brings out various kinds of emotion in babies which could be fear, or could be joy – but Anweasha had none.
The father runs a small carpentry shop in the village. He has noticed the staff members from SANCHAR coming to their village to help children with disabilities. He approached the staff and following their advice Anwesha was taken to a reputed hospital in Kolkata for consultation. Clinical testing conducted on one-and-a-half year old Anwesha confirmed her condition as profound deafness in both ears. Surgical intervention was suggested with clear intimation that chances of success are very little. The parents were told that the surgery would cost them nearly 8.5 lakhs of rupees – an amount impossible for the poor parents to arrange.
So instead of going for operation, Anwesha’s parents started an early intervention programme with SANCHAR when she was merely two years old. It took nearly six months to befriend the little girl and begin the pre-education programme with her. The parents are extremely caring and always trying to find ways that would help Anwesha to progress further. Gradually speech therapy and training in sign language are also introduced.
The facilitator visits Anwesha once a week. The session with the facilitator extends for nearly two hours. On other days her mother diligently follows up the lessons with Anwesha. At times other family members also attend the session. As a result, communication between Anwesha and the members of the extended family has become much easier.
The speech therapy has helped Anwesha to utter a few words such as ma (mother), baba (father), bhat (rice) and other simple Bengali words. She can hear very loud noise with the help of her hearing aid.
Anwesha is very friendly with her cousins who live in the same premise and spends a lot of time playing with them. She is not yet fully aware about her disability; at time she tries to convey a lot of things through oral communication or whispers secrets into the ears of her parents and gets angry when others are unable to comprehend her speech.
At the moment Anwesha attends the ICDS centre. She has picked up a few rhymes that are taught in the centre and conveys them through action. The parents have created an enabling environment for her at home. The furniture and other household items are labeled in big, bold letters for Anwesha to see and slowly acquire the names and associate them with the object. They are planning to get her admitted in the primary school and would like her to finish school and take up a vocation that would allow her to stand on her own feet. Though she has a long way to go, the early start in sign language, speech therapy and other life skills provided by SANCHAR has shown the way forward to Anwesha and her family.