Deafness is a common problem in Kashmir, but there are no medical and educational facilities available for deaf people. Deaf children do not go to school and often lead very isolated lives with little prospect of ever being independent. Mohammed Akhtar who lives in England and whose daughter Shabana is deaf, decided to do something that would make a difference to the lives of these children, now and for the future.
Kashmir Deaf Children’s Trust (KADECT) was founded in 2001. The charity raises money to set up and run schools for deaf children. It also plans to establish an audiology clinic in Kashmir so children can be tested and diagnosed from an early age and have hearing aids fitted.
So far KADECT has set up its first school in 2004 in the village of Charhoi. The village lies in a beautiful, but very poor area in the south-eastern part of Pakistani Kashmir. The school now caters for 24 pupils, boys and girls, from 6-16 years old and is free of charge. It fulfills a crucial part in the children’s lives; they gain self-confidence, learn to communicate using sign language and to read and write in Urdu and English.
The children who live in villages far away are picked up and dropped off by a school bus. The school has also taken all the children to an audiology clinic in Islamabad (100 miles away) to be tested and have hearing aids fitted.
But there are many more deaf children in villages and towns across Kashmir who don’t get any schooling or other help at the moment.
That is why we need your help.
Look at the pictures to see what the school is like.