The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Helping them hear down the years
- Hooghly centre holds out hope for challenged KIDS

Five years ago, Chinmoy Mondol couldn’t even walk. Now, at 11, he can not only walk, but also eat and go to the toilet by himself. He has learnt to write his own name and read a little as well. Chinmoy is mentally retarded. He found a second chance in the form of Pratibandhi Kalyan Kendra (PKK), an NGO that provides medical and emotional support for mentally-handicapped and hearing-impaired children and their families.

It all began in 1974 with the zeal of one person, Subroto Banerjee, then 18, with six deaf children, one teacher and a monthly grant of Rs 175, in the living room of his house in Bandel. From Hooghly Deaf and Dumb School, PKK has grown into an organisation that directly works with over 1,000 children.

Moushumi Biswas, 10, is hearing impaired, but loves to talk. She tutors her younger brother every day after school. Moushumi is in Class I in a regular school. With PKK’s help over the past five years, she can hear a little and talk a lot. “At home, you can’t make her stop. She is still not able to fully express herself, but she’s progressing every day. At the rate she’s going, we will soon need hearing aids instead of her,” laughs mother Mithu.

Nandini Sen is the coordinator of PKK’s school in Bandel, where the children and their parents are trained. She explains: “Our aim is to get the deaf children into normal schools. The younger they are, the easier it is for them to pick up language skills. With the older ones, for whom it is too late, and the mentally handicapped, we try to teach practical skills, like counting money, telling the time and buttoning clothes, so that they can achieve a degree of independence.”

With that in mind, PKK has several vocational training programmes, like tailoring and printing, through which the older age groups can financially support themselves. Similarly, Partner, the parents’ association, initially started by PKK, is now run by guardians to provide support for themselves and their children.

These projects are funded by the ministry of social justice and empowerment. CRY funds PKK’s regional resource centre, which houses an audiology, physiotherapy and psychology clinic, as well as their partner associations working in 80 villages in Hooghly.

“We have grown with the need. We are just about to start a computer training programme, because that is the next step,” says Sen.

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