Soni is a 13 years girl from the Muslim community of Terai region, Banke, in Nepal. She was born with hearing impairment. Considering her passion to study, she was sent to a private school during her pre-primary level by her parents. Although she attended school regularly, she had to drop out because the teachers did not have the right resources and skills to teach children with disabilities. Her parents thought that she could not study. They were not aware of the services and facilities in resource classes where she could be admitted and receive the education that she needed. As a result, Soni was unable to continue her school career, yet she wanted to.
She was spending her days by getting involved and supporting in daily household chores such as feeding cattle, cleaning, cooking and even helping her parents in the field. She used local self learnt sign language to communicate with her parents, brothers and sisters at home. She was not comfortable to communicate with others as the language she was using is not common sign language that everyone can understand.
Seeing Soni’s eagerness to learn, a Big Sister from the ENGAGE project (Empowering New Generation of Adolescent Girls with Education) got her to the bridge class in her community. A bridge class facilitator supported her to learn basic numbers, alphabets and words. Soni loves writing and her handwriting is neat and clean. She is also fond of drawing the things around her. She especially likes to draw Mehendi designs (henna art) in her notebook.
Soni’s Big Sisters helped her with school and taught her important life skills. They visited Soni’s parents to advise them to enrol their daughter in supportive education so that Soni could continue her school career. Initially, her parents did not want to send their daughter to the school because Soni would have to stay in the school’s hostel. But after several conversations with her parents, they agreed to send Soni to the resource class. She got admitted to the Rastriya Adharbhut school in Khajura (Nepal) and resumed her school career. Now, she gets support from a national volunteer for learning sign language that is supplementing and speeding up her learning in school. She is very happy with this change that has happened in her life and is determined to continue her study. Nowadays, she is staying in the school hostel with her friends and getting involved in various extra activities such as games and crafts.
Written by: Mahim Aryal
Edited by: VSO Netherlands
Photos: Mahim Aryal