This crowd-funding campaign is to help raise money for the education, monthly sustenance, and those unforeseen needs of Neha Maya Bhatt, who is a congenitally deaf adolescent child born in to a very poor family in Kumaon. She began attending Bajaj School for Deaf children in July 2015 and the learning she has achieved in just one and a half years is incredible! Please make regular donations, so that Maya can stay in school for six or seven years. She was completely illiterate in 2015 and since then has been making amazing progress. She failed all her tests in 2015 but in July 2016, she placed third in her class and won the Bronze Certificate and in October 2016, she placed second in her class and won the silver certificate! To keep this momentum going, your help is essential. ;-)
Go, Maya, Go!!!
This photo was taken in the summer of 2015, on Janamashtami after she had been at Bajaj for a few weeks. She is dressed like Radha! Maya (Neha Bhatt) loves going to school and takes pride in all that she has learned during the past year! Your support makes this incredible transformation and potential possible. Thank you, very, very much! Radhey! Radhey! Radhey-Shyam!
This fundraiser is to pay for the schooling for Neha (Maya) Bhatt, a deaf child from a small village in Kumaon, Uttarakhand. For several years Maya attended the local country school in her village, Kainchi Dham, but they had no facilities for the handicapped so she only learned how to carefully copy the numbers 1 through 10 and how to write the letters in both the Hindi and English alphabets, but had little idea that those abstract marks in her notebooks are meant for communication, and she didn’t know the difference between addition and subtraction. She could write her name, the name of her mother, but could not write the word mother and importantly, she could not write any sentences such as "Please give me water." or "My name is Maya and I live in Kainchi". Her mother is totally illiterate and her father has a disease. They are very poor and live in a tiny house without facilities, high on the mountainside.
As a toddler, Maya wandered away from her home and was lost in the jungle throughout the night. The next morning a road worker heard some rocks falling from high above and saw a tiger on an outcropping. Shortly thereafter, he heard a child crying and bravely climbed up and found Maya.
Though doctors say that Maya is congenitally deaf, some villagers believe that she has had the “blessing” of the Goddess Vana Devi from that night. When she first saw her mother she put both of her hands on the locket of Neem Karoli Baba Maharaj-ji, which she wore around her neck, and lifted it to her forehead, indicating He had been with her during the night.
After investigating the availability of schools for the hearing impaired, in July 2015, we enrolled Maya at the Bajaj Institute of Learning and Vocational Training for Deaf Children in Dehradun, quite far from her home (an eight to ten hour trip by road and rail). Bajaj Institute for the Deaf has a Facebook page. Please click here
(This photo is from Navaratri 2012, when Maya was dressed as a Kumari at the Mandir of Shri Neem Karoli Baba Maharajji, in her home village of Kainchi Dham in Kumaon.)
Bajaj considers that Sign Language is Maya’s first language and through that medium she studies English and all the other subjects. It is a very exciting time and Maya is thrilled to be amongst her peers in a deaf community.
Maya was born into poverty and neglect, but we have faith that it will not be her future. Our goal is to ensure that there is enough money to keep Maya in school until she graduates, and is trained in a skill that will support her adult life. She has a flair for computers and can find Frozen and Bheem in less than a minute, on any PC or Mac!
Since July 2015, Maya has been going to Bajaj School, an institute for the hearing impaired in Dehradun. She came home to Kainchi Dham for summer vacation the first week of June with her cousin/caretaker Meenakshi. The difference in her abilities is profound! She can read and write many words and even make full sentences and ask questions. It is the most amazing transformation that you can imagine, in only one year!
Much of the credit goes to the staff at Bajaj who have taught her and even agreed to put her into a class lower than her grade level because she had never learned to read even one full sentence, so doing forth grade (standard) work was daunting. But in the lower grade level she made high points and gained self-confidence and is now learning how to learn.
For a child like Maya who had very little intellectual input until the age of 12 when she started to go to Bajaj school, learning HOW to learn is the first step. She now makes associations and retains concepts that were unavailable to her mind before this year of schooling in Dehradun. Much of the credit for her rapid learning must also go to her cousin, Meenakshi, who is her loving full-time caretaker and diligent tutor.
For most of us it is difficult to believe that, by 12 years old, a bright and enthusiastic child like Maya could not even make one sentence or read the most simple signs. This opportunity for Maya is life-saving and monumental and we hope a community of donors will come to her aid.
When Maya first came back to Kainchi Dham, after a year at Bajaj, I organised a party for her to welcome her back home and to show all her friends and cousins how much she has learned. She wrote sentences on the board then showed a whole roomful of her cousins how to make signs in sign language. It was a great success!
The cost of Maya's upkeep continues... so any contributions will be carefully used. Please make Maya's education one of your little regular (monthly?) charitable moments... she is making such progress. It is unbelievable! I was astounded! So is everyone else in the village. After the party the children of Kainchi Dham came to the temple and were all trying to remember how to make the sign for thank you and other things they had learned. It was fine moment for Maya. Her mother was there and silently wept with pride. After Maya's presentation, the whole room of children danced and laughed and ate cake and pakoras.
[See the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWLr42Pq2u ]
Maya is expressive and now that she is learning how to communicate in writing and sign language she will go far and have a good life. Because she was totally untrained, yet bright and interactive, she devised her own form of sign language to communicate her needs. Her studies at Bajaj Institute have the potential to transform her life. We hope that she will be able to stay in school for five or six years. She is very behind academically and it will take her years to catch up. We depend on your generosity to keep Maya in school.
The ISL (Indian Sign Language) sign for Thank you is putting your fingertips on your chin and moving your hand forward. Thank you!This sum is also budgeted to include a pair of digital hearing aides.