Monthly Archives: January 2014

New Hearing Aids For Shakir And Shiva

Today two more kids received hearing aids that were funded by donations to Reality Gives. This time Shakir (14) and Shiva (11) were the lucky ones. They were chosen because they both showed a lot of dedication and motivation at school and therefore require hearing aids to study better.

Shakir is a very shy boy who doesn’t smile often. But when he does, everyone in the room will smile automatically as well. His father is a tailor but Shakir wants to do something with computers when he is older. Shakir has three brothers but is the only family member who is hearing disabled, which makes daily life for he and his family difficult. He loves three things: cricket, football and cycling. He says he will now be able to enjoy riding his bike even more because he can hear the cars and motorbikes approaching; it won’t be dangerous anymore. While we were asking him questions to get to know him better, he was busy trying out his new device and was confused because he had never heard so many noises around him. It was both funny and heartwarming to observe.

Shiva comes to the centre with his sister who received a hearing aid last year. He got very excited while she tried to explain to him how the device worked – he probably only caught half of it! As soon as he put the tiny instruments in his ears he started smiling and didn’t stop. Agnes, the centre manager, mentioned more than once how smart he is (and naughty!). He knows all the computer basics and is a very hard-working student. She said he received the hearing aid now because she realised that he wants to listen and understand but it is very difficult for him. We asked him what he thought would change most now that he has the hearing aid and he answered:”I won’t be frightened by the traffic anymore. Now I can cross the street and don’t have to be afraid to miss a car or motorbike coming from the side or back.”

We also met Raj (11) and Siraj (15) who are still waiting for hearing aids. Raj can hear very little while Siraj can’t hear anything. Siraj wants to go to college soon but says that following the classes is very difficult without a hearing device. His sister Shabana got an aid last year and he is hopeful that someone will also sponsor his device. Raj was less serious but very keen to interact with us. Agnes says he belongs to a group of very naughty boys who always hang together and “do masti.” But he wants to study harder too and he has seen the advantages of his friends who have already gotten hearing aids, so he hopes for some support soon as well.

Sixteen more kids at the Shalom centre are waiting for hearing devices. One device costs Rs. 9000 and all kids require two of them. Each time we visit, the teachers emphasise how much the aids improve daily life for those children – from following lessons at school to avoiding problems in traffic on Mumbai’s busy roads.

Help Raj, Siraj and many other kids with a donation towards this program. If you are in Mumbai or plan to visit soon, you can even attend the distribution of the devices which is a very touching experience. Visit for more information and to donate.

Thanks to all the amazing donors who supported this cause so far. Please spread the word!

Dental Health Camp by Berkeley

Last Saturday nine dental healthcare students from the Berkeley University in California, USA, conducted the third dental health camp at our Ashayen Community Centre in Dharavi. Together with our community health workers and many other volunteers, they invited the mothers of our communities to bring their kids for dental check-ups, toothbrushing training, fluoride vanish, nutrition counselling and to distribute toothbrushes and toothpaste.

The response was great: 50 mothers came with 73 children. The entire group was busy from noon until 6pm. Many mothers came for the second or third time but also a lot of new families wanted to participate as they heard about the great success of the previous camps.

Before the kids went from station to station the mothers were asked to answer a few questions about the dental health of their kids, their behaviour and their knowledge. The results were very interesting:

Many local dentists give misinformation or don’t pay much attention. It is very difficult to get an appointment and the usual waiting period is one to two months. Also the dental health care is expensive. Therefore the volunteers suggested that local dentists could be involved in this project and that they should follow up more often with the participants.

Junk food is still a problem. In fact even more mothers said that their kids consume too much junk food. Even if the mothers are aware of the issue, the fathers or grandparents would give less nutritious food to the kids. Therefore we hope to conduct a workshop with this target group, separate from the camp, next time.

Too many mothers bottle-feed their kids too early. Kids don’t drink enough milk or eat products which are bad for their teeth. This is a subject the volunteers want to address more at the nutrition counselling station next time.

During the interview with their mothers the health workers kept the kids busy by telling them a child story about the consequences of eating junk food. The kids quickly understood the reason behind the advice and reasons for eating healthy food.

This time the volunteers also added a new station where the hemoglobin levels were tested with a small device. We realised that 52% of the kids had hemoglobin levels which were too low, which can result in constant tiredness, weakness and sickness this is caused by malnutrition.

All together the camp was again a great success and gave us all great insights. The community health workers and local volunteers worked closely with the volunteers from the UC Berkeley to run a smooth camp and reach out to as many kids as possible. We appreciate the support of the students a lot and look forward to the next one in the summer.