How far would you go for answers? One mother’s story.
When meetings are called at our children’s schools, do we always go along?
Would you if you had to travel for hours for a one hour meeting?
Would you go if there was a snowstorm or floods were predicted?
How about if you lived in an area of civil unrest where you might be stopped?
There are no specialist trained Teachers of the Deaf in Myanmar and those working in the school for the deaf are from Social Care backgrounds.
Parents were only given one days notice by the School for the Deaf of the workshop that Mandalay School for Deaf UK specialist team were offering. Training would be provided, parents would be able to ask questions and would be provided with a hearing aid care kit.
One mother was willing to make the journey and grab the opportunity which she recognised was an opportunity that had never been offered to her before. Whilst some parents live locally, many live at a considerable distance and in very economically poor circumstances. Making the journey was thus not simple or easy for the majority of parents. They arrived anxious, tired, unsure of the visitors and what they would have to do. Our first task was to reassure.
As all children spend more time at home than at school it is vitally important that parents know how to look after and maintain hearing aids. Children learn the language that is around them, so home is a perfect place for this. For this reason, the Mandalay School for Deaf UK team wanted to train as many parents as possible. We were delighted to be able to provide hearing aid care kits for every family. We were delighted so many parents attended.
Despite our best efforts to include all those who attended, even the timidest parents/grandparents- one parent stood out. This mother interrupted at every opportunity making it hard to keep the training going. Unusually, she spoke English. The other parents found this very off-putting as they could not understand her questions, they also perhaps thought we would be more interested in her because we could talk directly with her.
One of the team went over and explained we would give her time on her own at the end of the session. We carried on with the session and explained all the items in the hearing aid care kit, watched all the parents as they listened to hearing aids, learnt to replace batteries and more.
In the end, we spoke to the mother who had been so keen to interrupt, then we realised why she had been so keen. She was desperate for information and lived a long way from the school. This meant it was her first opportunity to learn more.
She had also travelled nine hours by train, even given the very slow pace of trains in Myanmar this was quite a journey, she had also travelled from a “war zone”. This was not only amazing but also very humbling. Many areas of Myanmar are areas of insurgence but this story was truly one that made us reflect on the importance of being empathetic to situations that we had little, if any idea about.
Many parents have nowhere dry to keep hearing aids in the rainy season, many can either choose to feed the family or buy hearing aid batteries.
All parents want to do their best for their deaf child, few have such difficult travel circumstances as this mother. Despite only having one day’s notice from the school this mother chose to make a dangerous journey to ensure she would get a hearing aid care kit, training and the opportunity to discuss her son with specialists.
She valued the expertise that does not exist currently in Myanmar. She was hopeful that a school would be established in other parts of Myanmar for all the deaf children currently not in education. She wanted all parents of deaf children to have access to trained specialists. Her hopes for a more information-based approach were backed by her determination to see and support changes for deaf children and their families. This is a huge task!
Only two centres in Myanmar have the facilities to test children’s hearing.
No hearing aids are yet provided by the Government.
Deaf children are not within the Education department at a national level, they come under Social Care, thus are not taught by trained teachers.
As long as there are parents like this mother who has the vision and the determination, positive change is possible. If parents do not have access to information from trained specialists they have no way to find out what is possible and what can be achieved.
Please help us provide the vital support that is needed for these children by DONATING HERE.