For Prakash the odds were heavily stacked against him; growing up in extreme poverty with a hearing impairment and from the Dalit caste, Nepal’s so-called ‘untouchable’ people.
It takes five hours walking on foot to reach the place where Prakash’s family of four lives. They have no land for production, no employment, and they provide labour to the community for their daily survival. But it’s not enough, and Prakash’s father works seasonally in India to be able to provide enough food to sustain his family.
Prakash was born hearing impaired. The only way he could communicate with his family was using intuitive body language. Three years ago, his family heard about the RHERI residential hostel for hearing impaired children. They visited the hostel, and satisfied that it was a safe environment for their child, brought him there to live and study. BTO has supported RHERI since 2019 to provide a safe space and learning environment to meet the special needs of vulnerable, hearing-impaired children.
When Prakash first came to RHERI, he used to be a loner, sitting near other students but remaining silent. His passivity was the product of social discrimination he’d experienced in the deeply rooted practice of untouchability.
With the help of the teachers at RHERI, over time Prakash learned sign language and was finally able to express himself and communicate with his peers and teachers. RHERI does not condone any form of discrimination, and this inclusive environment where children feel loved unconditionally really helps them thrive.
Today eight-year-old Prakash is a happy and friendly member of the RHERI community. He’s curious and loves learning through his sign language teachers and studying. He enjoys painting and plays damaha and tyamko, traditional Nepali drums that are played at festivals, which he learned from watching and copying his parents. He misses his family but gets to visit them for Dashain-Tihar, Nepal’s two most important holidays.
The warmth, connection and sense of belonging at RHERI has had a profound impact on Prakash’s wellbeing. He’s currently in Grade 2, and with his new home and friends, his confidence is growing by the day. It’s thanks to the BTO community that we can support RHERI’s wonderful programs that open the world up to hearing impaired children.