Thursday, December 26, 2013

The success of Hear My Voice conference, the first event of its kind to be held in Dubai, which aimed at raising awareness of Speech and Language Therapy and Hearing Loss and Deafness in particular, encouraged ThinkupGCC to do more for the cause.

“Through our support with social media, ushering, registration and production, the team and I were inspired by the conference, the audience and the lectures,” says Saleh Al Braik, the founder of ThinkUpGCC, a virtual Hub that is set on recognising talent and raising awareness and supporting different community causes.

“During the conference we also realised how little we knew about the subject. We learnt, for example, that the sign language differs not only across countries but also across dialects, “ adds Al Braik.

“When interacting with the attendees of the conference, we couldn’t help but notice observing how the deaf community seemed to keep to themselves rather than interact with everyone. Our volunteers noticed that as soon as they were not capable of communicating in the sign language, attendees with hearing problems turned away from them.

“When we asked Sabine, the speech therapist from Kalimati, the centre organising the event, she confirmed that the ignorance of the community about their struggles did frustrate them. As soon as we showed interest in sign language and started trying to learn the basics of it, they directly opened up to us.

“As soon as Ramadan was over this year, we at ThinkUpGCC were still pumped up from the charity campaign which we have worked on during the holy month, and so we started brainstorming for a new activity which we never explored before, and that was when the idea of Hear Me Sign starting shaping,” adds Al Braik.

“Hear Me Sign” is a campaign targeted at students with hearing problems who attend schools that are either fully dedicated to deaf students or which have hearing therapy classes once a week.
The campaign that took place in September, with the help of 175 ThinkUpGCC volunteers from across the Gulf, aimed at building relationships with 350 children with hearing problems and is an affirmation of their importance and value in society.

“We visited schools in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Fujairah, Al Ain, Bahrain and Kuwait and carried out fun celebrations filled with gifts, balloons and sign language themed merchandise, “ says Saleh.

The campaign was a collaboration between Axiom, ThinkUpGCC, and Kalimati speech centre, which offered sign language classes to volunteers and liaised for the ThinkupGCC to reach centers across the UAE and Gulf.

The first event took place in Dubai on September 9, while the second took place in Sharjah on September 11, followed by the one in Bahrain on the 12th, Fujairah on the 16th, Abu Dhabi on the 18th, Al Ain on the 22nd and Kuwait on the 26th.

An Emirati crew ran the full campaign from photographers to videographers and volunteers.
“When I first heard of the “Hear Us Sign Campaign” from Think Up, I was relieved. For the first time, society was reaching out to my deaf daughter, creating awareness and educating others about her language, “ said Bedour Al Raqbani, mother of 7-year-old Noora Al Kaabi who attends a mainstream private school in Dubai.

“My daughter attended some the events and was delighted by the attention she received from the organizers, volunteers and especially meeting other deaf children. I feel so honored to be Emirati and to witness this compassion. I hope this initiative will grow and nurture,” she added.
“I often feel very frustrated by the lack of facilities for my daughter. I think a lot needs to be done to make children such as Manhoor to be accepted in the society as a whole,“ says Kanza Dohdy, the mother of a six-year-old deaf girl who attends a mainstream nursery in Sharjah.

“A lot of programs can be introduced on school level to make the teachers and children aware of this situation, which in the longer run will be better not only for our special children but for better society as well,“ she adds.

Read more about this initiative on @thinkupgcc on both twitter and instagram and visit the hashtag #thinkhus

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