What is life like for older and vulnerable D/deaf people in Nepal?
Many deaf adults in Nepal have never been given the opportunity to acquire sign language and this is as negative, as excluding and as isolating, as it is for deaf children in the same position. Imagine what life is like living to old age with no language beyond the most basic of gestures.
How does our Older Deaf Person’s Project Help?
- We support the Kathmandu Deaf Association to run educational, practical and social sessions for older and vulnerable D/deaf people in the Kathmandu Valley.
- The project employs a Deaf teacher and an interpreter to work with older D/deaf people, three days per week in Kathmandu and two days per week in Kirtipur.
- We have offered a range of practical and emotional support,specifically aimed at relieving the pain and destruction caused by the earthquakes in 2015. Many older and vulnerable Deaf people became homeless during this time.
- Participants are taught sign language, numeracy, literacy, registered as citizens, and given opportunities to go on outings and to meet the younger Deaf community.
- The teacher and interpreter visit participants’ families and encourage them to be supportive of their D/deaf relative, to learn sign language and to raise their expectations of what D/deaf people can achieve.
- Participants are given a hot meal every session.
- After a lifetime of isolation and exclusion participants are finally able to make friends and become members of a community.
A few words from David Hynes (our Chief Executive) on this project:
“I’m writing this from Kathmandu. I’ve just spent the last two days with these older D/deaf people – visiting both the group in Kathmandu and the group in Kirtipur, and then going on an outing to the zoo in Patan with the combined group and with younger members of the Kathmandu Deaf community.
Some of my reflections on the last two days are as follows:-
- There is great laughter in both groups. For the time they are together, these older D/deaf people are happy and secure, they are in an environment where they are cared for, where they are understood – an environment where they have friends and where they as individual D/deaf people are valued for who they are. It is very clear that they look forward so much to coming to the group and that the sessions are the absolute high point of their week.
- The Deaf person who is employed to lead this project and work with both groups is doing amazing work. His rapport with all of the older D/deaf people is fantastic and he brings all of his creativity and skills as an artist to his work.
- There is a real feeling of ‘family’ with this project. The older D/deaf people have been isolated from their birth families due to lack of communication – but they are now part of the family of this project and indeed, the wider family of the Deaf community in Kathmandu.