Press Trust of india

Army adopts ‘deaf and mute’ village in Doda

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Bhaderwah: A month after distributing hi-tech specialized hearing aids among the deaf and mute villagers of Dadhaki in Doda district, the Army has gone a step ahead and adopted the village to address the concerns of its people.

The hilltop tribal village, 105 km from Bhaderwah town, is home to 105 families. Of these, 55 families mysteriously have at least one person who can neither speak nor listen. There are 78 such people in the village, of which 41 are women and 30 children aged three to 15 years.

An Army spokesman said its Rashtriya Rifles has adopted the village in order to ensure the overall welfare of the population, with multiple social security programmes aimed at giving them the confidence to survive and make a living on their own.

In the first step, besides looking after their basic needs such as clothing, food and healthcare, the Army has begun door-to-door personalized teaching classes for the mute children by deploying sign language experts who have been specially trained in Telangana, the spokesman said.

In the next step of the ongoing scheme, a school with a hostel facility will be provided in Dadhkai panchayat, he said.

“We want to help them in a comprehensive and long-lasting manner. To teach them the best possible sign language, two teachers were sponsored by the Army to get specialized training at Hyderabad and Secunderabad (Telangana) and now, the deaf and mute population is being taught by them at their homes,” the spokesman said.

Bhalessa Block Development Council chairman Mohammed Hanief, a resident of Dadhkai, expressed gratitude to the Army for its continuous welfare efforts.

“Whenever a woman conceives, not only the family but the entire village lives in constant fear of the offspring being deaf and mute. If it happens, it only increases miseries,” he told PTI.

He said a number of government officials and NGOs visited the village in the last couple of decades, but “nothing concrete was done”.

“The Army has initiated practical steps which will surely go a long way to minimise the miseries due to the disability, the root cause of which has not been identified yet,” Hanief said.

Some of the girls, who have learned the sign language, expressed their desire to start sewing centres. They sought sewing machines and a residential school.

“We have pinned our hopes on the Army as it is the only one looking after us for the last 10 years. My three daughters – Asran Bano (8), Reshma (12) and Asha Bano (23) are born with the disability and the Army has recently provided them with hearing aids,” a Hussan Bibi, a local woman, said.

She said her daughters are showing a keen interest in stitching and said she is hopeful that the Army will help them achieve their dream by providing sewing machines and setting up a tailoring centre.

In January, the Army gave hearing aids, costing Rs 17,000 each, to 10 children in the first phase, besides starting tutorials to teach them sign language.

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