Everyone in the world has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has highlighted a desperate need to improve access to healthcare, health information and social supports for people with disabilities, including the those within Deafblind community.
The Deafblind International Youth Network shared the story below about Maiden. See text written below.
“I am Maiden, a girl from Meghalaya, India. I lost my parents when I was 8 years old and from than my aunt took care of me and my 2 siblings. When I was 13, I suffered from high fever because of which I started losing my hearing and vision. I live in a small village and people here are not aware about deafblindness and they make fun of me. I cannot study here in regular school.
I got admission at Bethany Society, school for deafblind supported by Sense India in Shilong. There I learnt sign language and English. There I was lucky enough to find a teacher who cared for me like a mother. She gave me strength and encouraged me to try new things and learn. I am now 21 and can communicate mostly through sign language. I was doing ok at
Shilong except the fact that I could not clear grade 10th despite trying twice because of my low vision as I could not read for long hours. Things suddenly changed after this pandemic broke out.
Once lockdown was announced nationwide, I had to move back to my village. There I do not have any friends but I work at my home all the time. I could no longer communicate in sign language. People here in my village don’t know how to sign so I could not communicate with them. Fortunately, I had managed to buy a smart phone for myself and explored to learn to use WhatsApp. Now at least I could message everyone and stay in touch. I also make video in sign language and share it with those who can communicate in sign language. One thing I am worried about is my brother’s education. He studies in Bangalore in grade 12th. Last year I could pay his school fees from the scholarships I got in sports but this year I have nothing so I could not pay his education fees. Being the eldest of my siblings it is my responsibility to be able to take care of them. The illness I suffered earlier has also left me weak and because of it I cannot work at our farm to provide for my family. I have kept myself very busy during the lockdown period. I love to cook and make cakes so I try to cook different dishes. My sister always loves my dishes. I also use google to search and learn new things. I am now using internet to learn more sign language and other things that will help me. None in my village helps me so I try to learn new things on my own. There are four other children who are deaf in my village but unfortunately no one is here to teach them sign language. I used my time during lockdown period to teach them sign language. Now I only hope situation would be better soon and I would be back in Shilong and will be able to finish school to pursue my dream of studying outside Shilong and become a well known Baker. I want to be independent enough to be able to financially support my family so that we wouldn’t need to be dependent on others.”
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We want to hear your stories.
How has the pandemic affected your own life and that of your family? What has changed in your community as a result of the pandemic? How have you had to adapt your education, employment and social life?