Over 100 children from five deaf schools make merry in silence

A deafening silence welcomed visitors to the YMCA College of Physical Education, Nandanam here on Friday where shamiyanas were put up on one side of the ground. Children were hopping from one stall to another which hosted an array of games. They played and made merry, in silence.

They were at the fair organised by Deaf Enabled Foundation, a voluntary organisation working for the welfare of hearing impaired. Nearly 120 children from five deaf schools in the city took part in the ‘Deaf Children's Mela'.

The staff, volunteers and students involved in the conduct of the fair, including the Foundation's founder and chief executive T.K.M. Sandeep, were hearing impaired. M. Ramya, director of communication and interpreter, explained the sign language to the visitors.

The afternoon sun did not deter the children as was evident from the smiles and excitement on their faces, which were painted with cricket world cup and flags. The ‘Bursting the balloon' stall turned empty by 1 p.m. as the 240-odd balloons got over in a few hours and volunteers were waiting for the next set to come.

Dart game, lifting the marble with a spoon and placing it on another plate, a game similar to bowling but replaced by steel glass were a few other competitions.

N. Amurunisa, a student of C.S.I. School for the Deaf, Mylapore, won three games but was not satisfied. “At school we don't get to play so many games. It is fun but I need to win more,” she gestured. Organising the games was a challenge. As N. Madhavan, a staff member dressed as a clown, said in sign language “It is first time that we are conducting such a mela. Preparations started a month ago, we booked the ground and decided on the games. Fun was the central theme of the event.”

According to Mr. Sandeep, the Foundation has been conducting similar programmes in Hyderabad for the last five years and it decided to conduct the event here as there are at least nine institutions for the hearing impaired and a day of outing is essential.

Parents of the children were not invited; one main reason is because not many know sign language.

“Hearing is more important than speaking and deaf people like to communicate in sign language,” says Sandeep, adding they needed more interpreters.