Shivam, who works for FMC, has been volunteering with people with various physical disabilities including hearing impairment, locomotive disabilities etc.. with our partner NGO Centre for People with Disabilities. He has put down in detail about his journey so far and also shared his learning and experiences.
We are a group of four volunteers who work at CPDL Masabtank. We have been working there for the past three months. CPDL is a government run vocational training centre for deaf, mute and physically disabled people where they are trained for jobs in retail stores and other private firms. The students are mostly twelfth pass (with some graduates too) from backward villages. These students are trained for three months, at the end of which they are sent for recruitment.
We started in August’13 with a batch of twenty nine students, (twenty deaf and mute and nine locomotor disabled). We were to visit them on every Saturday and take four hour session for them where we would teach them Maths, English and General Knowledge. Initially we were really apprehensive about the success of the whole thing. None of us knew sign language and without any formal training we just landed in between those people. But from the day one itself the classes turned out to be fun. The students were much more accommodating than we had thought. They taught us how to use sign language and just after the first session we were good to communicate with all.
In the following weeks we initially tried to figure out what they exactly lacked in. We played games and gave them puzzles to solve, which gave us a feel of what their level was. The following sessions went about improving their skills. We would play games, show them videos, give them puzzles, and interact with them. We tried to get as close as possible within the stipulated time.
The time flew on wings and within a month and half, their placement season came. The whole batch of deaf and mute people got placed in CCD and the batch size came down to nine. It was then that we actually started coming close to individuals. The reduced batch size gave us time to interact one on one with many people and we got the opportunity to know their skills. There are these girls who have completed their ANM and JNM and are looking for jobs in nursing. There is this guy who has done MBA in marketing and is looking for some sales profile job. These are people for whom the only barrier between them and jobs has been English, for which they joined this centre.
For the past few weeks, we have been working hard with these remaining locomotor disabled people, trying to get them placed and improve their English. We took them for an interview last Monday to Lifestyle, and then for lunch in the same mall. For people who come from really deprived villages, malls are like wonders of the city. The expressions on their faces during all these events were priceless. I think it is this expression that motivates us to go back every week. I hope someday these small efforts will turn helpful for them.
We are not their formal teachers; we just try to do our bit to supplement what they have been learning in their classes, and bring some element of fun in that learning. Below are few suggestions for the future volunteers:
1. It’s not impossible but it needs patience.
2. The skill range of the class will be really wide but everyone will have a common need to learn English, so try concentrating on that.
3. When we started our classes we began with a lot of activities to improve their language. But it would be better if Mock Interviews are conducted often and frequently so that they feel confident by the time the actual interview process begins.
4. It would be a good idea to record sentences in English and Telugu translation in their cell phones. So that they can play it and hear the way a word sounds. They can play it as many times as they want after classes and we need not repeat ourselves.
5. Meeting them in public parks (entrance is free for them) provides a good atmosphere for them to learn without pressure.
If you want to do what Shivam and the team at CPDL are, do write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Together we can,