New Beginnings: School For the Deaf
It began as every Orphan Voice project has begun in Vietnam. The need so pressed itself upon us that to ignore it would have been to deny the compassion within us.
We began working with special needs children in 2011 when our government partner invited us to a district with many special needs children, but with no therapy services available.
While working with that group of precious ones, we heard about deaf children who weren’t going to school. Something about it caught our attention. We asked about them and learned that deaf children in that area do not attend public schools because the schools don’t have signing teachers. Families are poor and, thus, cannot sent their sons and daughters away to attend boarding schools in far off cities. As a result, the deaf (and their families) do not learn sign language, are not educated and grow up isolated, confused and sometimes angry.
Armed only with a desire to help and trusting for needed resources, we sent a love-filled staff member to signing classes. After several months of intensive study and practice, she learned the basics. We were ready!
In November 2014, New Beginnings School for the Deaf officially opened with 7 scholars! Wow! What a blessing—and also a challenge. During my first few visits to the school, I wondered if we would ever get to the place where they would stay in their seats when visitors came!
But progress did come. Mai, New Beginning’s teacher, proved to be outstanding. In the short time that we have had them, they have learned some basic sign language and have benefitted immeasurably from learning to communicate with one another and with their families. Despite my early doubts, their behavior improved.
In addition to sign language classes, they study math, social studies, reading and writing. They have learned to wash their hands before eating and that cigarettes are bad for their health. One misguided family member teased one of the boys that the family would not take him to school the next day. The boy, believing the story, got up at 4:00 the next morning and walked an hour to New Beginnings, getting there long before it opened.
New Beginnings has proved to be just that—a new beginning!
If you would like to make a “new-beginning” for a deaf child, donate here.
If I Could Only Speak To Her…
I first met her at the Therapy Center where I worked. Therapists were massaging muscles in her weak leg, but she was also deaf. Thuy looked up at me with a sweet smile, touched my hand and lifted it toward her head. I didn’t know what she wanted until her grandmother told me that she was proud of her new hairband.
I remember thinking: “If she could speak or if I could sign, I could talk to her.”
Little did I know that my boss had decided to send me to school to learn sign language! There were 7 other deaf students in the area and none of them went to school! We wanted to change that!
I studied sign language for 8 months and then Orphan Voice opened New Beginnings School for the Deaf . I saw Thuy again and I’ve taught her every school day since.
She has learned to sign many words, like family, friend, animal, and food. I’m teaching her writing, math, and character lessons. She can write her name, knows her numbers and can add and subtract. She has never learned before, so I think that she is doing very well!
I see changes in Thuy’s life. She looks happier and plays with the other children more. She gets so happy sometimes that she forgets about her weak left leg and tries to run! She’s reminded of it when she falls, but she is still happy.
(Testimony of Nguyen Thi Tuyet Mai, Lead Teacher at New Beginnings School for the Deaf)
Schools in their Thuy’s district do not have teachers who know sign language, so deaf students normally do not attend classes. If they do attend, just for somewhere to go during the day, they are not able to learn. Poor parents cannot pay signing teachers to teach their children individually. Neither do the parents of the deaf sign. Communication for the deaf is there severely curtailed. Deaf children grow up feeling isolated and do not gain marketable skills.
As you can see from Thuy’s story, New Beginnings Deaf Classes is changing that scenario for eight children. These special ones now learn sign language, have character education, math, Vietnamese culture and and other normal school topics.
Their manners and habits are changing for the good as they enter their new world of communication. I am so happy to be part of it!
Mai–teach of the deaf
The Gift of Mobility
Moving on Up
Cleft Lip/Palate Repair
In America, we assume that all parents who have cleft lip children born to them will seek corrective surgery. That’s what happens. That may not happen in Vietnam, however, for several reasons. There is the cost. For the cleft lip child and mom to be away from home for 10 days is 60 meals to buy. There are also travel costs–for bus or train fare. Most families do not have that money. There is the medical cost. These factors hinder.
Orphan Voice hinders the hindering factors. For those families and children who cannot get the repair on their own, we pay the transportation costs or go transport the children ourselves. We pay for needed food while the child and mom are away from home. Our staff encourages, instructs and helps. If the child is sick, we pay for the medicine to get him/her better, so that the lip/palate surgery can take place.
On average, Orphan Voice pays $600 to obtain a surgery for a child. Can you provide the funds for one child to have this life-changing surgery? If so, you can designate that gift on our Donate Page.