At home, his family has taken little effort to learn to relate to him. At most, he says, they will hand him the television remote. “But there’s no point in that because I can’t hear or understand a thing. It’s boring,” he says. He often feels similarly isolated at weddings and other family gatherings. “I just sit there. No one talks to me. They don’t know my language.” Returning to school, then, comes as a relief. “The most frustrating thing at home is not being able to express myself, my feelings. All my friends are here; my life is here,” he says. The school’s vice-principal, Sister Phincitta, sympathizes with students who face such barriers. “I see this school as God showing his love for these children. He protects them,” she says. A student entertains his peers by drawing caricatures.
“God gives us strength,” says Sister Phincitta. “He showers us with his blessings every moment. I tell the children that even though we may suffer, in the end, God does everything for our own good.” And just as the sisters seek to help and protect the students, the students respond in kind. Sister Abhaya recalls an afternoon when she had felt sad because a friend of hers had shared some bad personal news. Seeing her upset, some of the children checked up on her. “They asked me what was wrong. They kept at it, asking me to open up, not to keep anything in my heart,” she says. They knew that Sister Abhaya was sad just by looking at her face. “The children are very keen observers of faces. They observe our lips to understand what we’re saying; eyes are important for them to understand emotions,” she says.
Sister Abhaya learned a lesson that day: How perceptive and sensitive her charges are.
s with Sister Abhaya, Sister Phincitta has been with the school since it first opened its doors, and has likewise overseen its growth. Interest in the school is still spreading, she reports. “We have children who are from outside Kerala, from places such as Delhi, Bangalore, Uttar Pradesh,” Sister Phincitta explains. “A growing number of parents want to bring their hearing-impaired children here.” As the school has grown, help has come in many ways, including from Catholic Near East Welfare Association and government grants. “We need much more to sustain the school; children always have needs,” Sister Phincitta says. “There are more than 200 children here at the moment. We need more
“The children are very keen observers of faces.”
The official publication of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA)