Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Helping Deaf Children from Calcutta's Slums Become Heard



Life is very tough here in the slums of Calcutta, India but it is even more challenging for the deaf and hearing-impaired. Faced with such a lack of medical care, many diseases and conditions go undiagnosed. The same is true for deafness. As a result, many parents simply assume these children are just stupid or mentally-handicapped. In many cases, these kids do not get properly diagnosed or ever learn sign language. Can you imagine being trapped in your own home, unable to express your most innermost feelings. Never being able to play with your brother, tell your mom that you love her or ask your father how his day was?


Fortunately, an amazing woman named Brinda Crishna recognized this problem and decided to open an amazing non-profit to help address this shortcoming of aid and education.  Today, VAANI (which means "sound of the soul") works in several regions in India, but Cause & Affect decided to address the situation here in Calcutta, where VAANI works directly with deaf children and their families through their Kolkata Metropolitan Project. 90% of all the project's deaf children and families come from lower socio-economic backgrounds and low literacy levels.

The project is an effort mainly to combine center-based specialized services with a community-based approach and aims to:
  • Ensure that all deaf children aged between 0-14 years have access to diagnosis, early stimulation and education
  • raise awareness of the issues surrounding the primary education of deaf children
  • work towards raising the expectations of parents and the wider community for the deaf child’s potential
  • help the parents and the wider community to understand the value of educating the deaf child

It has been a challenge convincing parents who are mainly concerned about their child’s educational needs to also be involved in his/her emotional and social growth. VAANI's community mobilizers have worked hard to make them understand the need for communication, and to convince reluctant parents to come with their children to the resource centres and to be a part of the VAANI extended family.


After numerous field visits, Cause & Affect looked for the most direct way to assist the project. Our timing couldn't have been better, as they were looking for funding to open a brand new Resource Center. This facility will house a new Early Prevention Program to allow babies up to 3 years old to participate in the project as well.  Cause & Affect donated $1,000 to purchase supplies and materials for the project. As the video shows, this project is transforming these children's lives. It is amazing to see children suddenly have the ability to express themselves for the first time in their life. We are so thankful to VAANI for their amazing work and professionalism!

Please allow us to continue supporting worthy projects like this by donating here.
Special thanks to Eric Wiesner for your assistance and generous donation - you da man!


  1. What a great post. Great help to deaf children. Lucky you are now that you are heard. Thanks for all who helped. Thanks. TFI thefamilyinternational

    1. Thanks for your support Ashleen! Yes, it was such an enlightening experience to contribute to these children's lives.