Category Archives: Our Partners

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 www.realitygives.org/corp for more information and to donate.

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

Hearing Aid Distribution At CORP

As we entered into the main room of the Reality Gives supported Community Outreach Program (CORP) Shalom Centre, a daycare centre for disabled children, we were greeted with smiling, eager faces. Five days a week, from 4:00 to 6:30, a regular crowd of around 15 children spend the afternoon at CORP Shalom Centre. On Saturdays, these children spend the entire day at the centre, benefiting from special activities such as music and art classes. Using donations, Reality Gives already provided eight hearing aids and two calipers for physically handicapped children from Dharavi.

The lives of the few children who already received hearing aids from various funding sources changed drastically with the new devices. Before, they wore a cumbersome voice box over their chest with headphones in their ears. In order to properly utilise these old aids, speakers must lean in and talk directly into the box. The children’s disability was not only disabling but also outwardly visible. Their difficulties extended into their daily routines as well. A task as simple as walking on the road proved difficult because the hearing impaired children had trouble hearing oncoming traffic. In the evenings, they had trouble enjoying a TV show with their families because they could not comprehend the full story.

Since receiving new hearing aids, their challenges have lessened immensely, and the aids have even enabled the children to carry out a normal life. These children can hear their teachers, and several of them affirmed that they are now able to learn more. All commented that new hearing aids have facilitated confidence. Indeed it has because four recipients of the hearing aids have since passed their Higher Secondary Education (HSC), two years beyond the required education. After their schooling, the children aspire to become everything from a cricketer to a teacher to a shop owner to a guitarist.

Knowing this, we were happy to hand out two more hearing aids that were entirely funded by the donations we received from the Reality Tours Travel’s customers after the Dharavi Slum Tour in our Reception Centre. This time Sameer (12) and Shabanna (13) were the lucky ones.

Sameer is a very cheerful young boy who enjoys using the computer and who wants to become a tailor, just like his father. He is very keen on passing the 10th standard and to go to college afterwards but he is also aware that he will need to work at the same time to contribute to his family’s income.

Shabanna is very shy but the teachers say she is very smart and hard-working at school. At the same age she is already three grades ahead of Sameer and also very keen to pass the 10th standard to join the college afterwards although she doesn’t know yet what she wants to do afterwards. She has three brothers of which one is also hearing disabled. She shunne the attention she got on the day of the hearing aid distribution but now she is looking forward to using the new device to learn even more at school.

The experience observing these kids using their new devices for the first time was incredible. Other children with the same devices helped them to install and adjust them and then the moment came when they could suddenly hear their friends and teachers properly for the first time. A big smile arose on their faces and we left with a warm and truly meant “Thank you”.

Chris Way, Founder of Reality Gives, who was at the centre for the distribution centre, said, “I’ve been in Mumbai for over 8  years now but seeing the kids put on the new devices and seeing their reaction, as well as of those of their family, was one of my most humbling experiences since I have been here.”

The kids find the outside world is different than the comfortable, welcoming rooms of the centre. At CORP’s Shalom Centre, the children acknowledge that they are understood. With the help of Reality Gives, however, the new hearing aids have made the outside world a bit less frightening.

If you want to help too donate today on www.realitygives.org. Thank you for your support!

Thanks to our volunteer Aliza for her help contributing to this story during her visit to Mumbai.

The Dharavi Art Room

The Dharavi Art Room has been almost established as its own brand. Every child in the by us called “papad area” (as most women living in this area produce the famous crispy papads) know the colourful room above a resident’s house which is run by Bombay Underground.

During the school vacation in April and May we have been running the art classes every day, conducting activities such as drawing and painting on canvas, wall painting, making crafts out of old plastic bottles, origami folding etc. And of course we continually do our photography workshops.

In fact the photos shot in the last year have been so amazing that we decided to organise a second exhibition at the False Ceiling Gallery in Bandra. “Mumbai 17 – A Dharavi Art Room Exhibition”aimed to break down the negative image people have of slum communities (heard that before somewhere before didn’t you?) by showcasing the optimistic point of view of the kids in Dharavi. The photo selection was colourful, happy and surprisingly professional (a surprise for the visitor, not for us of course).

Continue reading The Dharavi Art Room

The CORP Vocational Training Centre

Reality Gives supports CORP by mobilising funds, sharing resources as well as raising awareness for their programs. In this endeavour we have connected CORP with the German consulate which funded around INR3 Lakh for new technical supplies and materials for the vocational training centre. Additionally we recruited students amongst our former Youth Empowerment Program for the training program.

In the new group, there are 24 girls in the 4-month beautician program and 49 students in the tailoring class, which takes 6 months to complete. Participants must be 16 years of age or older and are charged a small fee which helps ensure personal responsibility and improves attendance rates. The interest in the tailoring course has been so great that they will soon split the youth into two sessions so that each girl will have ample time with the instructor and the machine (the class meets Monday through Saturday for two hours each day). The center is currently in possession of 9 sewing machines but will soon buy 6 more – including 1 electric one – to meet the demand.

Continue reading The CORP Vocational Training Centre

The Blind Walk!

On Saturday, Reality Tours in collaboration with BMW Guggenheim (http://www.bmwguggenheimlab.org)- an urban think tank currently in Mumbai to explore how urban environments can be made more responsive to people’s needs- did a tour of a very different nature! The 26 participants, from Mumbai and abroad, were blindfolded for the full 90 minutes of a custom made tour, which started from the serene park setting of Horniman circle and ended in the equally serene setting of Byculla museum.

Continue reading The Blind Walk!