Helen Keller Centre for deaf and deafblind children and youth
The Helen Keller Centre in New Mumbai is a special education day centre and home for deaf and deafblind children and youth. 70 deaf and 45 deafblind children and youth are attending the centre every day. From the 45 deafblind children and youth, 25 live in the centre as only there an adequate care can be guaranteed. Their parents don’t have the financial means nor education/understanding to look after the children in an acceptable way.
The reasons for the deafblindness of the children are either genetic, such as the Usher syndrome, or because during the pregnancy the mothers have used narcotics or suffered from diseases such as Meningitis or Rubella.
The centre distinguishes between “high functional” and “low functional” children and youth. The “high functional” youth aged 18 or older are producing educational books in Braille. This is done at another place in Old Mumbai. The deaf are using a voice-to-text interface to put texts into a computer which is controlling a machine that is embossing the Braille into the paper. The deafblind youth are then proofreading the texts.
The “low functional” youth, under supervision, are carrying out simpler tasks at the residential home such as candle-making, growing potted plants, cooking, making paper bags and necklaces. The making of necklaces is particularly interesting: As the youth cannot see the colours of the beads, the beads are being kept in different containers. Still, the youth are able to create designs which are utterly complex. The paper bags are being folded from erroneous sheets of the Braille making. Companies from Mumbai are buying the bags to pack gifts during the festival season of Diwali (October/November).
In the centre there is a completely equipped department for occupational therapy and physiotherapy.
With the deaf children and youth, one staff has to care for 8 children; for the deafblind children and youth, the ratio is 1:2, whereas one staff per child would be ideal. Therefore volunteers are being looked for who can assist in the following areas: Working out educational materials, doing leisure activities such as swimming, yoga, sports, arts and handcrafts, nutritional consulting to assist the nurses, computer training, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, nursing and special education. The deaf children are using the American system of sign language.
Location: New Mumbai, India
Duration: Minimum 1 month
Costs: none, the trouble-free package is optional
Accommodation: Not included
Meals: Not included
Included: Placement in the project; if you opt for the
trouble-free package the whole range of services which is part of the
trouble-free package is included
Not included: Travel to India, health insurance