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March 17, 2007

Parents of hearing impaired children look at Aarambh

From: Pune Newsline - Pune,India - Mar 17, 2007

Support group to help children start a new beginning towards normal life

Anuradha Mascarenhas

Pune, March 16: NEARLY a year ago, when 15-month-old Tanvi Pandit underwent a cochlear implant surgery - perhaps the youngest child in the city to undergo this surgery — it was supposed to help her to embark on a new journey of life. For, Tanvi was born deaf.

But what came as a rude shock to Tanvi’s parents was when they tried to put their daughter in a school. Several schools wanted her to retain the ‘hearing impaired’ tag, while a few Marathi schools even refused to give her the admission form.

“Now my child is normal. So, why deny her the opportunity to go to a regular school,” asks Tanvi’s mother Neelima.

That prompted her to set up a unique parent support group — Aarambh (Beginning) — for the hearing impaired. Neelima hopes that through Aarambh she would be able to help parents of children with hearing problem financially.

“Right from detection of the hearing loss to finding a correct place for treatment, we parents face a lot of problem. The cost factor is also important and surgeries like cochlear implants are unheard of,” Neelima said. The surgery costs around Rs 6 lakh and Aarambh plans to encourage donations to help parents who are financially weak.

The support group meets once a month and discusses a range of issues. Currently, there are 30 parents who form this group. With 11 cochlear implant surgeries performed so far by the Big Ears unit of the KEM Hospital and a waiting list of 46, Neelima hopes Aarambh will actually help these children with a hearing problem start a new beginning of being normal children.

© 2007: Indian Express Newspapers (Mumbai) Ltd.