By: Our Correspondent
LAHORE: In a bid to impart adequate skills to deaf and hard-of-hearing young people, the Institute of Social Youth Development (ISYD), a youth-led & youth-serving organization initiated a project/campaign titled MERI AWAZ. The aim is to empower deaf young people to get adequate skills, knowledge, and awareness regarding the different thematic areas which are important to our society e.g. gender equality, human rights, youth leadership, reproductive health, life skills-based education, inclusivity, etc. Under this campaign, ISYD with the support of Bill and Melinda Gates Institute, Pathfinder, Bayer, UNFPA Pakistan, and R-FPAP organized a Provincial Capacity Building Workshop on Reproductive Health and Wellbeing with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Young People in Lahore from the 22nd to 24th of July, featuring participants from different cities of Punjab.
It was very productive training, majorly emphasizing the health aspects of the deaf community that how much they are neglected by society because of their disability, the degree of discrimination they receive in their own houses, and the challenges they face getting proper information and services in regard to their health and wellbeing. One of the participants quoted: ‘I used to feel neglected before this workshop, for me, it is the first experience of having a workshop with our community on such an important topic’, another participant said, “I feel empowered now as now I believe that even if I’m unable to speak, I still have a voice, presence, and reason in this society as the project title says “MERI AWAZ”. The agenda solely focused to include the deaf and hard-of-hearing community in the civic spaces, the problems they have been facing throughout their life in society, the demands they put up to society as a civil society member, to enable them to become change-makers, to focus on the health of this particular community e.g. to provide Youth Friendly Services to this community especially, to have sensitized interpreters in the hospital so they are able to communicate their problems and can get them to resolve as any other civil member. Moreover, different sessions were conducted with them to cover different aspects and give them proper knowledge. It wasn’t so easy but the experience was quite great with the amazing participants.
These kinds of training workshops will benefit society as well as the deaf community itself. Society will be sensitized on how to deal with the problems this particular community has been facing and likewise, the deaf community will be sensitized on how to express what they are failing to tell, especially their health issues and to believe that they are not neglected ones but a part of this society. This would help them become a more responsible and informed citizen of society and society itself will progress because it would leave no one behind.
They all actively participated in this healthy and productive discussion and it was really glad to see their active participation and interest. It was not surprising to see their response to looking forward to more trainings like this as they encouraged the initiative taken by ISYD because they felt it difficult to communicate to others about themselves and to take part in the society equally as other citizens do.