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  NGO Watch


 Celebration of the senses  

The inauguration of the schoolIf you can repair a road – fine, but if you can make a road- even better”, says  Behroz Vacha, honorary director and founder of the Helen Keller Institute for Deaf and Deaf Blind in Byculla. A  two time National award winner and the winner of the Anne Sullivan medal for pioneering work among the deaf and deaf blind in India, Vacha is the first Indian and Asian to be so honoured.

The Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation has contributed one acre of land at Thane- Belapur to the Helen Keller Institute to expand its range of services for the handicapped on a national level. The project is nearing completion. The school has also received a donation of Rs one crore from the G D Birla Medical Research and Education Foundation in memory of the late Aditya Birla.

Helping each otherThe institute was formed  on 11 July 1977 by Vacha and her two companions with a capital of only Rs 150. Today it is one of the leading institutes and one of its  kind in India.

Sense International India (an NGO) has announced the first teacher training course for teachers of deaf blind people in the country. It has been approved by the Rehabilitation Council of India and will be run by the Helen Keller Institute as a pilot programme from this academic year.

The aim of the school is to teach the children self expression, to build their self esteem and self worth and to make them independent so that they feelplaying with the tiny tots that they contribute  to and are a part of society. As in the case of Mary Amsa. A congenitally deaf blind young girl, she was brought to the institute at the age of 8. With no communication skills to interact with the outside world, she had very little awareness of herself and her environment. Today she is a confident young lady capable of looking after herself. She stays in the Borivli  hostel of the institute along with other similarly handicapped students. She enjoys craft work and looking after young deaf blind children. She makes beautiful necklaces but hasn’t seen one. She likes to dance but hasn’t heard a melody in her life. Warm and affectionate in her behaviour, she enjoys meeting people, but too much physical activity or a sudden change in her routine makes her nervous.

Dancing away to their hearts contentVacha recalls instances from her childhood that were to influence her commitment to the deaf and deaf blind in her adult years. “ As a young school girl in Bulsar, I had a deaf boy in my class and I noticed that people and other students picked  on him only because he was so timid and handicapped.”  Years later when she revisited Bulsar she noticed a grave in front of the school and was told that it was the  resting place of the same boy. To Vacha , the grave was a symbol of a muted spirit denied the right to education for no fault of his own.

“ Anyone whose grey cells are ticking can be treated as a normal child no matter what his or her handicap. It is often the way that we, the society think and feel about them  which is the real handicap,” says Vacha, adding that every child should have a right to education according to his or her ability.

By : Latika Sidana

µ Comet Media Foundation
µ Cancer Patients Aid Association
µ Giving a child a loving home
µ Celebration of the senses
µ Concern India Foundation
µ Make A Wish
µ Adding life to days with love
µ Eldred Tellis
µ Mother Teresa's roses
µ Association of Youth for a Better India
µ ICICI Providing a helping hand
µ Shelter Don Bosco - a lamp of hope
µ Akanksha - Bringing a smile to every face
µ The Spastics Society of India
µ SMILE - A charitable organisation with a purpose.
µ Vipula kadri
µ Bombay Natural History society
µ  NGO Listing