Bridge to India

Invest in a Student, Change a Generation

Quiet Moments, Powerful Impacts : Cheryl

January 20

A truly Helen Keller moment today!
Today we had the opportunity to go into a remote village and distribute shoes to a children's home. ALL of the children at this home are orphans and this is their only home. We started off by playing bubbles with them and just letting them warm up to all of us. It took almost no time before we were surrounded by smiling children and lots of laughter. After all of the children were sporting their new shoes, we were off to play for a bit while lunch was being prepared. As we were playing outside, one young girl caught my eye. Something about her actions and interactions was familiar to me. I went to see her and as I approached, it hit me - she's deaf! (In the 11 times I have been to India, I have only met one other deaf person.) Not knowing if she knew/used sign language, I started to sign to her. She was a little nervous and unsure, yet at the same time, I think she knew something was different in the way I was interacting with her. I asked the school director if she was learning any sign language/was anyone teaching her in a mode she could understand. His response was, "No, sadly she and her twin sister are deaf and also unable to speak. So there is nothing we can do." To all of my Deaf friends and interpreting friends, you can only imagine my immediate need to show that there was in fact great hope!!
The next 30 minutes were spent with me going around the school yard picking out all of the nouns I could and showing them the sign for them! We did, tree, car, truck, photo, frog, girl, boy, and so on! It took them no more than 15 seconds to catch on and their faces, as you can see, were just pure joy! When I knew they understood what we were doing I knew it was time for them to understand they had names, so I told them my name and gave them each a name sign - one for smile and the other for heart. They immediately started pointing to each other and using their new names!! Later during lunch, they would look and me as if to say, "Please tell me another word! So on to "rice, orange and chicken" we went! I have been so moved and touched by these two girls who just happen to be deaf!
Oh, if i could spend the next year with them!! On another special note - so many of the other children joined in to learn the signs and seemed so happy to learn these signs and to share in something with their "sisters!"
My heart is smiling!!!

January 25

Another amazing story!
I posted the other day about twin girls who were deaf and how they experienced language for the first time, well…God did it again! While our Samaritan's Feet team were out sight seeing around Hyderabad, we stopped at a local coffee shop. The young man who brought us our coffee made some hand gesture to Caleb that caught my eye. When Caleb tried to talk to him, his co-workers quickly came out from behind the counter and motioned him away, as if to say, "Don't bother this man." They then apologized for him being deaf and dismissed the young man back to his work. I quickly motioned to the deaf guy and again, his co-workers tried to explain that I need not bother - “He can't hear or talk." Well….I bet you know what happened next!

I proceeded to talk with him - slowly but surely - we were able to establish enough ASL and Indian Sign Language that we had a wonderful conversation! I found out how long he had been working there, where he lived, where he went to school and how many deaf friends he has (not as many as he would like!). While this young man had received some education and was obviously a contributing member to his city, the best part was watching his co-workers, the ones who dismissed him as almost "broken" and unable to help a customer in any way, stare (from behind the counter) in utter amazement as their deaf co-worker had a 15 minute conversation with this group of Americans!! They couldn't believe their eyes. Our entire team interacted with him and you could see him just beaming with pride! I am certain that his co-workers will never look at him the same again! What a privilege it was to be a part of that moment in his life!!