17 November 2006

The School

Tiruvannamalai is economically designated as a most backward District. There is no industry and a high percentage of the population is unemployed.

In 1992 at the request of the then District Collector, Rangammal Society opened a small school for profoundly hearing impaired children.

The area has a high percentage of speech and hearing impaired children. The reason often is because of consanguineal marriages (having the same ancestry or descent, i.e. marriage amongst close relatives).

The school currently has 200 residential pupils and 36 non-residential children. It is totally free of cost and includes food, board, study books etc for ages ranging between 3-22 years old. Rangammal Memorial Higher Secondary School for the Hearing Impaired has a high reputation for academic and cultural performances.

The children at the school are quite lovely. Very lively, intelligent, cheerful little babies. But it broke my heart to see such lovely kids wearing hearing aids.

While I was there I met two girls from the U.K. who have just finished their final school exams in England and have come to India for four months to work at Rangammal School. Both girls got their posts through Project GAP Activity Projects in the U.K.

In the LKG (Lower Kindergarten Grade) class, I met with Sarah from Dorset who is just 18 years old.

Next I visited the UKG (Upper Kindergarten Grade) class and saw Hannah from Kent who is also 18 years old and just finished school in the U.K.


Divyakka said...

I stayed several time at a similar school in Visakhapatnam. I thought it was lovely how the children accepted their disabilities and were still laughing, playing and studying as normal children (none had the luxury of hearing aides, however). We had fun as they taught me their own sign language. For instance, putting a finger to the “middle eye” on the forward was the sign for a women (indicating the kum-kum dot!), and twisting an imaginary mustache was the sign for a male (clean-shaven men are still only seen in big, modern Indian cities; for the rest of the population, a man without a mustache is not a man at all!).

Arunachala Living said...

In a weird twist of irony many of the kids actually have a better childhood because of their disability. Not that I wish it upon any of them.

However, for example the Rangammal residental School is a place of Love and Kindness - many of the kids in it would have a very rough time of it in 'the real world'.

But its all so sad. And humbling that they little ones should be able to enjoy their lives so much -as you found out yourself from your experiences at the school in Visakhapatnam. A lesson in nobility and joyfulness.