By Syma Sayyah, Tehran
It is always good to discover an organisation in this huge city of ours where dedicated individuals are doing their best for a special group of people. Last week, as part of my work for the Popli Khalatbari Charitable Foundation (PKCF) I went with my husband Paul to see Mr Sadegh, Mr Yekta and Mrs Amir Kaveh who with the help of others run the Iranian Supporting Institute for Hearing Impaired (ISIHI). They are registered officially as an NGO (non Governmental Organization) and do not wish to take any direct help from the government. One important point about their organization is that they insist that the children who join this group must go to ordinary schools.
Mr Sadegh has 2 sons, and one of them has impaired hearing; he started this NGO some ten years ago with help of others who have the same problem. One of their NGO's greatest successes since its formation, he told me, was that they have managed to change the terminology used in the media and especially in national TV and radio, from "deaf and dumb" to "impaired hearing" (afrad ba ofet-e shenavaie) - very successfully. He and his NGO strongly believe that a lot more can be done to educate the public at large and help those with the special hearing needs. All the members of the NGO have children who have impaired hearing.
The societies resources are most limited, however, once a week, on Thursday afternoons, they take over the use of a lovely old building which is owned by the local Shahrdari (municipality) near Monirreyeh Square in the south centre of Tehran to run their special courses and classes, in painting, theater, writing stories, story telling, reading, English etc. They also run many workshops to teach their students life skills and how to reduce stress among other things.
Altogether the society has over 350 young people between the ages of 4-20 in their register, however, only about eighty hearing impaired children attend these classes every week, but sometimes the numbers of students who use the classes go up to 100 or 110 because some have more than one class.
What impressed us most as we walked in, after long arrangements, was how cheerful everybody was. I was deeply touched by the positive aura that was all over this wonderful old 40's building, which used to be a private house. We had got there early to get a good feel of the place and as we sat and talked first to Mr Yekta (who was my contact with the NGO) and Mrs Amir Kaveh, we saw young people of different ages alone or with their parents come in and go to their classes while their parents waited happily on the benches in the yards. Some bought tea from the urn that one of the members ran for the benefit of others and they all paid for their cups including us. It showed us what a great sense of cooperation exists in this society among the members and we also noted an advertisement for a trip to Kashan next month by those interested.
7 years ago at the international festival for handicapped youth, in the music section they had 15 out of 18 participants and everyone was impressed with the fact that those young people with limited or no hearing could play and sing together so wonderfully and this group won a couple of the prizes. Most of their teachers who run the classes are professionals and seemed most dedicated to their work when we saw them teaching.
Later in the afternoon when there were so many of them around, we meet and spoke with many of their older members, and again what impressed us most was the fact that these young people were confident and self-assured as well as motivated and looking into the future with hope and positivity. This achievement is to me is the greatest that this small NGO has achieved and one can only hope that others work with the same dedication and perseverance. The society also prints a monthly magazine which I found most entertaining since despite the small number of pages, they had managed to have something for different ages as well as the whole magazine being bright and colourful.
Overall we were impressed with their work and their achievements, as we looked at the parents or family members there, who seemed relaxed and involved which was pleasing and refreshing. The group inspires hope in the children and their families which to us is so very important and helps them to become independent with self confidence.
PKCF has already agreed to make a donation to them; however they need to receive help from other institution or individuals to help them towards their many needs some of which include:
Their website is www.isihi.org, please check them out and see how active and positive they are,
Please help them if you can. I have a few pictures here to share with you.
... Payvand News - 4/30/07 ... --