We walk into a room bursting with color. Bright paintings on glass, silk pouches designed to hold mobile phones, picture frames embroidered with tribal designs, hand-painted oil lamps, origami art….and happy, smiling faces. The place? A vocational training unit in Hyderabad, India, set up and run by Ashray Akruti, a not-for-profit organization. And the creators of all this iridescent color? Hearing-impaired children who are being encouraged by Ashray Akruti to develop their talent and potentially turn a hobby into a source of future livelihood.
We learn that hearing impairment affects nearly one in 250 children in India. And hearing disability in turn affects speech and language skills, behavior, emotional development, academic outcomes, and later, job opportunities. Sadly, a huge number of children, especially in developing countries like India, don’t have access to proper diagnosis and follow-up infrastructure.
And yet, early detection and treatment can lead to remarkable improvements in speech development, in academic performance at school, and in what these children can achieve as adults. Special education can transform their lives and equip them with the skills to make them fully functional and productive.
Of course, the children at the Vocational Training Centre in Srinagar Colony, Hyderabad already know this. They’ve learnt to communicate, to express their thoughts and ideas through words and the creative skills that they are taught here. And it shows in those bright, smiling faces.
Ashray Akruti runs residential schools for hearing-impaired children from poor families in and around the southern Indian city of Hyderabad. Inspired by the experience of the founder’s own hearing-impaired brother, Ashray Akruti started with five children in 1996 and now takes care of the schooling needs of 500-odd children, many of whom will enter mainstream schools and colleges.
Starting with helping identify hearing problems in infants, to facilitating cochlear implants that help children hear, and setting up clinics and special schools for hearing impaired children, Ashray Akruti has brought hope and dignity to the lives of thousands of children with hearing disability. A key objective of the organization is to help these children realize their potential and teach them skills that will help them find well-paying jobs when they grow up. To this end, they run facilities such as a Multimedia and Animation Training Centre offering a 6-month course in animation software, a Computer Training Centre teaching basic computer skills to adolescents, and a Vocational Training Centre that primarily focuses on developing craft making skills.
At the Vocational Training Center children are taught to hone their talents at painting, at embroidery, at sewing and cooking. They are taught origami and paper-mache and a variety of other craft by a dedicated set of volunteers and teachers employed by Ashray Akruti. The products that the children make here are sold at the center itself, or at fairs, to raise money and awareness about the project. The skills that the children are taught not only increase their sense of self worth and help them experience the joy of creation, but could also potentially help them earn a livelihood when they grow up.
Bloom & Give has undertaken to provide financial support for the infrastructure to train 50 girls at the Vocational Training Center for a year. We hope that the girls learn life skills, make beautiful objects to brighten our lives and have the time of their lives!
For more information about Ashray Akruti, please visit http://ashrayakruti.org/
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