The global deafblind charity, Sense International, has launched a new appeal, to fund a pioneering new programme that will transform the lives of children and young adults with deafblindness in Bangladesh. The ‘My Turn to Learn’ appeal, which will improve access to education and opportunities for work for these young people, is supported by the UK Government, which will match, pound for pound, all public donations made between 18 October and 17 January 2018.
In Bangladesh, children with deafblindness face huge challenges. Most are excluded from school, often because teaching staff don’t have the skills to support them and families are overwhelmed by the emotional and practical challenges. Without access to education, the children remain at home, and will not develop the vital communication and life skills they require to achieve basic independence.
The ‘My Turn to Lean’ appeal will support a programme of inclusive education and vocational training, which will include recruitment and training of specialist teachers who will work with dozens of families to support the children at school; training for mainstream teachers; the creation of a model school to promote best practice; and targeted meals so that children with deafblindness are well enough to learn.
The face of the appeal is Morium Begum from Narsingdi in Bangladesh. When Sense International first met Morium, deteriorating eyesight and hearing loss meant that she was on the verge of being taken out of school. Aged nine, her future looked similar to that of many children with deafblindness across Bangladesh – a lifetime of social isolation.
Today, aged sixteen, with the support of Sense International, Morium has become one of the first children with deafblindness in Bangladesh to pass her primary school exams. She has grown into a confident young woman, and hopes one day to become a teacher.
Morium Begum said: “Ms Asma Bagum [Specialist Teacher] spent time with my parents and teachers to help them understand how I can be supported to stay at school. Without this I expect I would have had to stay at home and not have the opportunity to learn and develop, to communicate and be part of my community.
I now wish to one day become a teacher.
I know that there are many other children with problems with their sight and hearing who are not as lucky as me. I hope that this appeal can help them.”
Director of Sense International, Alison Marshall, said: “Less than ten per cent of children with a disability in Bangladesh are in primary school. Currently, those with deafblindness rarely get the opportunity to learn vital communication and life skills, leaving them isolated and at greater risk of poverty.
No child should be left behind, which is why Sense International is launching the ‘My Turn to Learn’ Appeal.
UK Aid Match will double the impact of public donations, which will be used to improve access to education and opportunities for work, transforming the lives of children and young people with deaflindness across the country. There has never been a better time to support our work.”
International Development Secretary Priti Patel said: “In countries around the world, children with deafblindness are not getting the education they deserve, but Sense International is providing the life changing help that’s needed. The My Turn to Learn appeal will fund training and support to help thousands of children and young people with deafblindness in Bangladesh to get the educational support to which they are entitled.
“Every donation made by the generous British public to the My Turn to Learn appeal will be matched pound for pound by the UK government, meaning we will double the difference Britons can make to ensure deafblind children and young people in Bangladesh have the brightest possible future.”
Sense International Patron, HRH The Princess Royal, will launch the ‘My Turn to Learn’ appeal at a special reception held at The Banqueting House in Whitehall, this evening.