Going to school was one of Amrin's biggest dreams; over the past year, the hearing and speech impaired teen has been busy bringing it to life by learning the sign language
It has been a year of transformation for Amrin Shaikh. Last year, when she came to Mumbai from Gujarat to join her sisters at the NGO Kranti, she was unable to interact with anyone. But now, the hearing and speech impaired 15-year-old has not only learnt sign language but has received a full scholarship for a summer camp in the US for deaf students.
Amrin is the daughter of a bar dancer and has three other sisters, all of whom reside at Kranti with her. The sisters lost their father a decade ago.
Since then, Amrin has been staying with her mother in Vadodara, Gujarat while her sisters have stayed in various hostels in Mumbai and now stay with the NGO.
An animated Amrin (left) describes her experience at the museum. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
Farah, Amrin’s elder sister said, “After our father’s death, life was difficult for us. All of us shifted to Mumbai’s Govandi area, but that didn’t work out. So, we all shifted to a hostel and my mother and Amrin returned to Gujarat.”
Niloufer, her other sister, says her mother used to work as a bar dancer in Gujarat. “We would see our mother going out in the evening all dressed up, with full make up on. She would return home a bit upset on most of the days.
Later on, we realised that to give us basic amenities after our dad’s death, she was dancing in bars. We are very proud of her and whatever she did for us,” said Niloufer.
When we met Amrin at the Vakola centre of the NGO, she had returned from a visit to the museum. She gushed about her experience to the other girls and nobody failed to understand what she was saying, since they’ve all learnt sign language just to communicate with her.
Living the dream
Amrin spoke to us via her sister Farah who interpreted what she was saying. She said, “My father died when I was very young, and my mother didn’t have any means to raise four girls. She worked as a bar dancer and sent my sisters to stay at NGOs, but she kept me at home. There, I learned to cook and clean, but I never learnt to read or write. I didn’t even learn sign language, and I could only talk with two or three people outside home. So, going to school is something I’ve dreamed about for years.”
She added, “When I came to Kranti, I got to learn dancing, painting and theatre. But most importantly, I started going to the Bombay School for the Deaf and Mute. There, I learned the basics of reading and writing. But it was my tutor, Sana who really helped me to learn. She comes to the Kranti home almost every day and teaches me for 2-4 hours. She even teaches the other Kranti girls and staff on Sundays, so everyone is learning sign language.”
Back in Vadodara, Amrin would not even cross the road. However, things have changed in the last few days. Bani, a member of Kranti said, “Her school is in Mazgaon and she goes by train on her own. Earlier, we were worried and her sisters would accompany her. But now, we have taught her to use the mobile phone and she goes and returns from the school every day on her own, without anyone’s help. We were surprised she achieved this feat in such a short time.”
While she’s been selected for the camp, Amrin needs some funds for her visa and flight and for her interpreter. The NGO has started a fund raising page at: https://milaap.org/campaigns/deafcamper. Those who want to contribute can also call Robin Chaurasiya on 975 735 3449.