A mother of two deaf children, she brought a school to her village with lot of efforts
If we can’t fulfil our children’s need, we must ensure his or her happiness, so that the need is not larger to them. Moslema Bibi of Malancha in South 24 Parganas of West Bengal believed this was the only way for her during troubled days when her child was suffering from deafness. She struggled with her fate to find out her own path to dignified life. The hamlet Malancha is nearly 60 kms from Kolkata. As like other little-educated girls of interior Bengal, she was also married off at a young age and soon became mother. Within few years, she gave birth to her second son. After four years of raising the second child, she discovered that the child is deaf. Helpless mother started knocking one medical facility after another across the state to find the right kind of facility in the state at cheaper cost, but in vain. She kept looking for a cheap cure for her son but in the meantime, Moslema Bibi again got pregnant. After she delivered her third child, a son, she did not even have an ounce of joy. Instead, her woes increased as she later found out that this one too was deaf. “I was unable to communicate with my child. It was so painful that I can’t express,” Moslema Bibi said. Her child was growing without listening to his mom’s tune or words. From one stranger she heard that there is an NGO, called Vaani, which extends help to such children. She managed to get the address of Bangalore-based Vaani’s Eastern Regional Centre’s address at Tiljala Road and reached there. That took three hours’ for one way to reach by bus from her home. Despite her weakness due to delivery of third child, she started travelling with both her deaf sons to the Vaani Sadhan Resource Centre in Kolkata diligently, despite having to travel three hours one way for each trip. Observing that Vaani’s care and training was helping her son, she talked about Vaani Centre with her neighbors. Some of them too were in similar type of problem with deaf child. The news of Vaani servives benefitting her children spread across Malancha. Parents of many deaf children started approaching her but after hearing that they will have to undertake about six hours’ journey everyday, most of them back-tracked. It was not illogical too as most of the parents were poor farmer families where both husband and wife had to invest physical labour in the field apart from family chores. Moslema understood the reality and also the need for Vani services among other parents. She decided to take the initiative to go it other way. Till now, she was taking her children to Vaani in Kolkata. She thought why not Vaani reaches those who need their valuable help? She approached Vaani officials to open a centre at Malancha and provide services to the needy. But, it was not easy for Vaani to do so. It required a place to guide the children, to help them to play with toys. In a remote village, renting a house is nearly impossible. Moslema pursued Vaani and offered her cowshed for this purpose. She also pursuaded parents of four deaf children to send their wards to the new Vani Centre. Initially as decided, Vaani started sending a teacher for the deaf to guide once in a week. But, problems were there as cowsheds do not have doors to lock. For classes, children needed toys and learning materials and also light and fan has to be fitted. But, after the class got over, she had to unhook lights and fan everyday to protect them from being stolen. She had to lock all the toys and learning materials in a box and shift them to her bedroom. But, without any complaint, she continued to do so for the next four months. Deaf children were being helped literally at the cowshed amidst the prevailing stinking, dirty and messy conditions. Deaf children had to be there under with horrible conditions in rainy season while filth overflowing with rain water. Moslema took the issue to other parents and talked about how a small concrete room can be constructed. By that time, the number of deaf students also started to grow. To accommodate those, the need was for bigger structure. The parents decided to approach Vaani’s Kolkata office and vowed to become self-reliant link centre. Vaani officials, understanding her selfless and determined services for her children and the village, approached prospective donors to help in her initiative. Soon Moslema Bibi found helping hands. Kolkata-based Rajni Nijhawan Charitable Trust expressed its desire to fund her dream to become a in reality. Rajni Nijhawan Charitable Trust is founded by Jagadish Nijhawan and his brother-in-law, Mr. Rajiv Krishan Puri, Chairman, Parcon (India) Private Limited, in memory of his mother to assist the poor, especially physically handicapped and the needy. The Trust wished to fund the entire cost of renovation of the cowshed and to build another room so that growing number of students can be accommodated. One can imagine how Moslema jumped to get her sons trained and within a year got the Bangalore-based NGO to step in interior village with a permanent building. Vaani organizers thank Moslema from the core of their hearts but admit that Moslema’s dream would not have materialized unless Rajni Nijhawan Charitable Trust extended generous help. It took the villagers about six months to slowly and gradually convert get the cowshed into a pucca building. The Foundation was laid, constructed up to plinth, then raised further and finally the roof was laid. Though the Trust extended total financial help, yet the parents of deaf children rediscovered it as their own. They extended all kind of help and contributed in their own way. Starting in November 2015, it took about six months to finish and in May 2016, the new Malancha Sadhan Resource Centre started functioning. Deaf kids of Malancha got a new place to learn and grow in a healthy way. Now Moslema spends more time with the Malancha centre of Vaani-Rajni Nijhawan Trust and looks after all the children at this centre. She has paved the way for others to raise their children in a better manner and communicative environment. It took her two years’ struggle which, according to her, is ‘most gratifying and satisfactory’. Her experience, “If any organization carries its selfless service to the society, the beneficiaries will cooperate to carry that forward.” And, this experience has turned the worried Moslema into a happy mother. Moslema Bibi’s story is also inspirational for other such persons having children with special abilities. Now, they know how to overcome their everyday struggles and get proper education for their children. As they say, where there is a will, there is a way. And Moslema Bibi is a living example.
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