1 week 6 days left!!..End of ALL training..no more free weekends..Hyderabad..feedback reports and meetings..farewells..homeward-bound and monsoons.

Hello everyone once again,

  • Hard to believe it’s 1 week and 6 days to go….
  • This weekend is my last free weekend of the year, as I am in Hyderabad next week for the bank hols weekend….will be nice to visit the city with my lovely colleague/friend and her wonderful family.
  • Delivered the final 2 days of 6 days Master Trainers’ training last week. SO much work yet to do with them as all the documents and systems are so new for everyone that they all need time to absorb these and practise using them…
  • Hard for them to get their heads around the fact that our late identified (over 6 yrs old) and profoundly Deaf children in the schools will not be able to ‘catch up’ 5 or 6 years of education in 1-3 years with extremely minimal language and communication skills….the most efficient solution is to give them meaningful and fundamental basics with which they can use in life e.g. basics of reading and writing, general knowledge, effective communication in ISL and life skills.
  • Am in midst of writing up feedback reports in a PPT…to present to the management of the organisation that I am working with and DCW (NDCS)….my line manager is coming over from London for this and discuss the way forward for the following year after my departure…
  • The annual monsoons are making several areas a misery for the locals, as their homes and livestock/crops are badly flooded/ruined…with so many lives lost..
  • Will write my final blog next week.
  • Sandra x

Hotspot..English tea-bags..facts..race against time..and the final 3 weeks!

Hello everyone again,

  • Out of the total Indian population of 1.3 billion: there are only 180 million TV households and 462 million internet users.
  • Our faithful Airtel 4G hotspot that Nita and I use during our work travels in the far districts are our lifeline as wifi is not reliable or isn’t available.
  • Being an old-fashioned English tea drinker for my daily breakfast, I am now 14 tea bags short before flying back home!  Nevertheless, I have the Earl Grey tea-bags to fall back on, ha!   English tea-bags are very expensive here as it’s exported.
  • I am now back in my home base after 2 weeks in the district for on-site training – this wasn’t sufficient and all participants need so much more time and practice, plus a great need for their own subject knowledge to be developed…this and ISL training will eventually make their teaching more effective.
  • I now only have 7 working days to produce an end of project report in a PPT presentation, outlining what worked well and/or didn’t work well, recommendations and targets for the next year after I leave – to share with the management of the organisation I work with and DCW (NDCS).
  • Plus individual feedback for all the 70 participants in the form of a rubric against a set of criteria – a race against time!
  • And wow, only one more free weekend left…the 2nd last weekend will see me in Hyderabad and the final Saturday will be a working day to finalise everything in the office and the removable of my disposable assets from my home, before I fly out at 7am next day.  Really cannot believe it will have been a whole year here…feels like it has flown by in the blink of an eye.
  • Am delivering the 3rd set of Master Trainers’ training this Thursday and Friday, linked to development of their trainer/leadership skills, action plan for the next year, further understanding how to create SMART IEP’s, Short and Long-term targets and lesson objectives.
  • WOW, I have never ever seen SO much floods in Koppal last Wednesday from the heavy monsoons and the insufficient drainage, that people were actually wading in the water up to mid-calf!
  • Poor waiter in the district hotel restaurant last week – he had to change my dish 3 times after being told repeatedly NOT to add any spices nor chilli!!  Eventually, the cashew dish was really yummy with non bread, (naan bread) ha!
  • I will now miss eating mangoes as it’s the end of season for them! Really loved them in my bowl of fruit all-sorts for my daily brekkie with plain yoghurt (curd)
  • There are 283 types of mangoes in India, but only 30 are well-known!  Am forever gob-smacked at the numerous types of each fruit here!

That’s it for this week and I wish you all a lovely week ahead,

Sandra x

Deaf as ‘abnormal’?, Can Deaf people read?, 4 weeks left, speech = knowledge? and cows.

Hello everyone again!

Wow, how has my last blog input 4 weeks ago flown by in the blink of my eyes?!

  • All 3 training Modules for 3 groups each are all done….definitely NOT enough time for the participants to absorb everything and they need time to adapt to a new way of thinking and viewing how to teach Deaf children meaningfully and efficiently – this means efficient communication…(after constant reminders to empty their knowledge and practice from their previous training)
  • ISL will start to be taught next week to the participants, after 8 months of pestering and several conversations with management that one cannot simply separate effective communication from effective teaching…
  • Am currently at home for 2 days in between 2 weeks of on-site supplementary training to participants in the 2 sets of districts, which include 11-15 hour sleeper train journeys..
  • We showed how to carry out a Baseline Assessment of a Deaf child, how to collect all info from it in order to create SMART IEP’s, SMART short-term plans and left it to them to practise writing these, followed with SMART lesson objectives…plus the need for effective communication to be able to assess effectively!
  • All of them still think that reading texts equals to knowledge and understanding!!!  They still think that because Deaf children can read word for word, which in turn means they can understand – but in reality, NONE of them are able to read for MEANING…
  • Some teachers have said that Deaf people cannot read and are abnormal because they cannot hear and speak!  So, I gave them questions to think about and shared facts to challenge their thinking, but again, it will need time and many conversations/workshops to discuss and understand the implications of these thought-provoking Q’s…the issue for the majority of people here is they have not had exposure nor met successful Deaf adults in India…nor HIGH-QUALITY teachers of the deaf training…
  • People here still think that being able to read and speak aloud from texts/blackboard means they DO have the curricular knowledge and understanding….
  • I even asked them if I achieved all my qualifications from universities without being able to read or access English?!
  • So, I asked them to go back to their deaf children and ask them to explain or give a summary of what they have read (without re-reading or looking at the text)…. this will definitely show them their total lack of understanding…
  • Went to a 50th anniversary of a school for the Deaf in Bangalore, which was very accessible as my colleague, Nita and another person interpreted for us via large screens in the huge hall…Aban who was Deaf, started the school and they had a large group of 18 committee members.  It took them 2 years to plan and organise the day from 9.30am to 6pm….so many speeches, short shows, short dance performances and lunch…the Deaf community was more of ASL users than ISL, due to the influence of American missionaries in the past…
  • I did 2 lesson demos for the school that our 12 participants are from, and it naturally caused a stir from them with regards to the children’s’ abilities…again, it needs time for them to acknowledge these issues…but some of them were genuinely aware of the very difficult challenges of teaching Deaf children in a class with other hearing children with different disabilities and cognitive abilities…I have made recommendations….
  • SO much more to share but don’t want you to drop off to sleep or be bored so will say au revior for now…..it’s 4 weeks from today that my whole year here comes to an end sadly….will miss it SO very much here on all aspects including the work and challenges….and I will definitely miss the daily sight of cows owning the roads and pavements!!
  • Till next week, Sandra x

Welcome back and the final 8 weeks of the whole year!

Hello everyone near and far,

Welcome back to the blog as I have not updated for 3 months!  I am sure many of you have seen my regular posts with photos on my Facebook page.  Thanks to all of you who commented so positively.  Here goes the update:

  • I SO cannot believe that it is 8 weeks from today that I fly back home after one whole year!!!  A cliche, but HOW on earth have these 365 days gone by in a jiffy???
  • My job here continues to give me so much satisfaction, but not without many many challenges across the project.
  • 3rd and final training module tomorrow for 3 consecutive weeks for 3 groups, totaling 70 participants on the theme ‘Holistic support for the Deaf child’
  • This will be followed by 2 weeks out of the city into the far remote districts to monitor and support the participants in their work, and provide further on-site training/demo’s ( a repeat of the 15-hour sleeper train journey)
  • Then the final 3 weeks back here will include 2 bank holidays, loads and loads of reports and data to write up, 2.5 days of meetings with management, a certificate celebration on Aug 31st with ALL 70 participants and management plus my line manager who is coming over from London, to tie things up and preparing the way forward for my wonderful colleague, who will sustain this project for another year. The idea is for the management to eventually take full responsibility to run the project.
  • Module 2 last month was very intense as the content focused wholly on ‘Teaching and Learning Pedagogy’ – I introduced several new documents for them to use e.g. Baseline Assessment of the deaf child, the curriculum, IEP and re-vamping the online tracking system.  Everything is very new for all participants in terms of understanding WHY and HOW their current teaching curriculum and methods are not successful at all.   They all need time and practice to implement all they have taken from the training.
  • It was all about getting away from their usual ‘the deaf child cannot understand, the deaf child does not know, the deaf child cannot remember, the deaf child cannot read and write’!  to looking at themselves and what the barriers are, etc.
  • Baby steps but the board of the organisation I am working with, have finally agreed after 8 months of persuasion from me, to fund for an ISL trainer to teach ISL, plus taking on all our 5 new recording documents.  Some staffing changes have also been made as per my recommendation…fingers crossed for gradual and continued improvements for deaf children.
  • The daily newspapers have been talking a lot about how the monsoons have affected India e.g. people being killed, huge floods as high as a person’s thigh, homes and buildings being damaged and causing havoc to traffic….also interesting to see our Indian Prime Minister Modi interacting with PM’s of other countries lately…and now at the G20 summit…very political….
  • Another big and an ongoing issue is the constant dumping of rubbish and waste into the roads, lakes and rubbish heaps all over the place….debris all over too…am sure that eventually, they will have dustbins and collections….
  • I have been reading some good books…one of which was ‘Malala’ and only yesterday, Malala was mentioned in the newspaper about finishing her education in Birmingham, UK after moving there from being shot by the Taliban in Oct 2012!
  • Am SO fortunate to be able to travel around via Uber, as communication with tuk-tuk drivers is treacherous!!  and with Uber, I can track my journey for safety, no communication with the driver is needed at all, and no hassle of having the  correct amount to pay!
  • And Skype is a total godsend!  I talk to Barry almost daily and to my boys and friends at weekends…and if Skype isn’t sharp, then FaceTime comes into action! Thank goodness for the advanced tech!

Will write again next week….bye for now,

Sandra x

Summer is here!…current and recurring daily newspaper issues..light bulb moment for a 2nd person..manual scavengers…thunderstorms…Int Women’s day and Master Trainer’s training..

Welcome back again..

  • Phew, what a week it has been..with the summer temperatures at 33 degrees daily now and trying to adjust to the heat while working!  The office fan does help, but I am still sweating profusely, along with my constant hot flushes which doesn’t help, ha!!
  • And the evening temps are usually around 28-30 degs until early morning, when it drops to 20 degs but then it climbs back up very quickly to 26 degs when I get up at around 7.30am…
  • I have never ever experienced such prolonged periods of extremely  powerful lightening and thunderstorms last Tuesday and Wednesday nights, that my kitchen floor had one corner flooded from the rain through the meshed window!!!  Couldn’t see it as the power was cut off for 4 hours, and again overnight!  Mopped up the rainwater mixed with heavy and dirty dust, filling up 1/4 of a washing up bowl!
  • I enjoy reading the daily newspapers here, as they cover issues TOTALLY different from ours in the UK, that we take for granted e.g. the government is trying to make water available 24/7 in some areas, school students dying from food poisoning from contaminated water, manual scavengers dying due to lack of proper equipment and clothes for cleaning blocked sewage pipes,  rapes being ignored by some states/areas, plans to spend millions of pounds on new bullet trains instead of focusing on the dire poverty and the 75% of people living below the poverty line….
  • I had a productive 2 days training the 5 potential Master Trainers, 2 of whom suddenly realise and understand the need for sign language (ISL) for the deaf children that we work with, as 99% of them are identified as deaf at 6 yrs old, so missing the critical 0-5 yrs old for language acquisition!
  • BUT the real issues are: lack of ISL teachers, lack of ISL courses due to no recognition of ISL by the government..lack of funding for courses and teachers..
  • The organisation I am working with here celebrated the International Women’s Day by having a 2 hour event at the end of the day, with speeches by the SMT, singing by staff, 2 prizes for the best sari, and 3 prizes for excellent results in tests on Persons with Disabilities…
  • This week, my colleague and I need to focus on completing all PPT’s and handouts for the next Module, which then will be sent off for translation, while I fly back home for 2 weeks.

Have a lovely afternoon/eve and a good week ahead till next week….Sandra x





Wheelchair users…temps…lightbulb idea..garbage issue, open defecation-free cities and continuous child marriages..

Hello once again:

  • No wonder there are NO wheelchair users outside in the street!!  The pavements are SO bad that they cannot move along them…..Haven’t seen one yet in 6 months so far!…unfair…We walk on the road for 99% of the time..
  • It’s quite dangerous trying to cross such a busy and crazy road with very few traffic lights, so for wheelchair users, absolutely impossible!
  • Even with traffic lights, motorbikes ignore them and carry on, often near-missing people!
  • I am now starting to adjust to the summer temperatures now, between 30 and 34 degrees daily and around 25 degs at night..have the fan on more and more now…
  • School summer hols here is from beginning of April to the end of May.
  • The daily newspapers here often talk about the difficulty of trying to get their garbage/rubbish sorted instead of always in heaps on pavements, sides of the road, and everywhere…no proper dustbins yet…some shops have metal can bins for rubbish…but not enough to accommodate the incredible amount of rubbish which is always left to rot…or for cows and goats to scavenge for food…
  • Another HUGE problem nationwide is the lack of proper toilets, both in the home and in public in the villages and cities, that the government is trying to encourage people to install toilets and appropriate plumbing system…some cities are open defecation-free!
  • Lakes are getting smaller and smaller as the untreated sewage is another major issue to tackle and solve..
  • Child marriages continue even though there are awareness and information against this, but it is largely ignored in the rural villages….children as young as 7 yrs old are forced to marry!
  • At long long last, one senior member of the organisation I work for, has only JUST had a light-bulb understanding, and begun to understand the reason and purpose of my training staff here!!!!!  It’s taken him 5.5 months with so many discussions, conversations, meetings….and I am not giving up on ALL other staff….
  • Walked 15 mins to a mall that I discovered!  A small but a nice one which also has an Apple store..and my favourite store – ‘Fabindia’….yes, I bought 2 tops…the cotton here is SO thin that it is such a blessing to wear…
  • Working very hard now for the next 2 weeks to complete everything for Module 2, then these documents get sent off for translation into Kannada, while I am in the UK for 2 weeks break.
  • SO lovely Skype-ing and Facetiming to friends and family as always, at weekends…

Have a great day and a good week ahead, Sandra x

Teacher of the Deaf conference…summer temps…cultural event…Makeathon…desert jeep ride!

Hello everyone again after a few weeks,

  • Got back from a week in Jodhpur, for a National Teachers of the Deaf conference – 33 speakers including myself, each having 10 mins to present!
  • I pushed for my need to have at least 20 mins as Nita (my colleague) was interpreting for me – but managed to get 15 mins for my presentation…it was well-received but only 3 actually came up and said congrats on such an excellent presentation and that sign lang is essential for those children identified late in the rural and remote areas
  • My several requests via emails and phone for an ISL interpreter was not acknowledged, so on the 1st session of the 1st day, volunteers were asked to terp for me for the 3 days!!!!
  • Needless to say, I missed out a lot, but the presentations were very similar and very research based by young students (bit boring)..and ALL focused on  deaf children with mild and moderate hearing loss…..NOTHING was mentioned about severe and profound deafness!
  • All focused on hearing aids, cochlear implants and the need for spoken language only!
  • Every speaker had negative attitude and nearly always said deaf children had problems in speech, communication, language development, understanding, reading and writing, etc etc
  • To cut a long story short, I managed to stand up at the very end of the 3 days and said my piece – along the lines that THEY now need to think, analyse and understand the causes for the ‘problems’ they mentioned and turn these into positive strategies, etc
  • No space for workshops or group discussions…one speaker after the other all day!!
  • One of the organisers even asked why Nita and I were here!!!!
  • There are NO Deaf teachers of the deaf in India
  • After the end of the conference, 6 of us escaped to a local desert, an hour’s drive away and had the most exhilarating ride in a open-aired jeep across sand dunes..with high-speed and wonderful fast downward/upward slopes…such beautiful sun-set and took many fotos…£1.25 for 40 mins…(more OMG stories, but too long to note here)
  • So many camels….
  • Temperatures are now between 31 and 34 degrees daily, as we are now approaching summer, until the monsoons in July.  Very hot and it can be tiring…the ceiling fan is on most of the time, at home and in the office…overnight, it is on average 16 degs..27/28 degs in the evenings…gotta get used to it…
  • Praying for the frequency of power cuts to be lower for the next 3 months! Otherwise, no fans!
  • It was good for me to see a ‘normal’ private school for hearing children and watch their beautiful cultural dancing shows and drama shows (Nita’s children’s school) – very lavish with stunning costumes, scenery and 4 massive screens all over the humongous outdoor marquee, to cover around 1,500-2,000 people in the audience!
  • Excellent and inspiring speeches by school staff and guests for parents to have high expectations from their children, including thought-provoking conversations (because government schools normally teach through text books, as their curriculum, which is very limited and rigid in breadth and scope. No space for thinking by pupils)
  • I was asked to do another presentation at the very last min (!) by APD (the organisation I am working with here)  in technology for deaf people, to a large group of various technical company representatives, working into creating innovative solutions for daily living
  • So, my examples included ISL interpreters and subtitles on TV, in cinemas and theatres, captioned announcements in public stations, telephone relay service, signed stories for children, etc
  • To my surprise, my presentation was one of 3 that were selected for the companies to go away and come up with innovative solution/s!!!  Let’s see what they come up with..
  • Very busy at the mo, creating Module 2 training – teaching and learning
  • Am still SO thankful for the technology: Skype/Facetime/Messenger/WhatsApp/Facebook to keep me in touch with everyone
  • Will be in London between March 24th and April 9th, then it’s 5 full months here until Sept 3rd, when my work here is done, and the day before my visa expires
  • The gap between the very rich and the very poor continues to widen here…
  • See photos posted on my Facebook page

Bye till next week! Have a productive week ahead…Sandra x



2 sides of a coin, surprise birthday, EE, training and the Aussie tennis!

Welcome back to my weekly blogs!

  • Firstly, a MASSIVE and HEARTFELT thanks to everyone of you for all your lovely, kind and very supportive messages for my birthday today!   It meant a lot to read your personal views and thoughts of me.
  • I should have gone out for lunch with my lovely colleague, Nita, but her son was unwell.  Luckily, I was enthralled and glued to the laptop, watching live tennis of the Aussie Open…Both 2 matches were 5 sets, so it took me most of the day!  Murray and then my fave Federer!  …looking forward to catching highlights of this week’s tennis until Saturday, when it ends.  SO thankful for the internet and my new broadband which was installed before I came back here 2 weeks ago.
  • To top it all, I was gobsmacked when at 6pm (in between tennis), John, my lovely and caring landlord and his family of 5 came to my apartment with a big birthday cake!!!!! And sang happy biffy to me, cutting it and taking fotos!  SO kind and thoughtful of them.  They must have known my DOB from the rental agreement and my passport! Had a chat with them, some gestures and written English…a wonderful gesture!
  • The 2nd training group last week went well, but at a much slower pace, due to their lack of knowledge and understanding….plus difficulties with Kannada interpreters..SO sweet of one participant, who said at the end, that Nita (my co-trainer/colleague) and I are like 2 sides of a coin!  They gave us excellent feedback in that they liked the interactive style of training, the activities through the week and that I was very patient, smiley and explained things clearly.
  • It was hard to learn from one participant, who said it would be difficult for her to come to the next 2 modules, as her mother came along to look after her small baby, which meant she lost 5 days of daily wages.  This 5 days wages is crucial for survival/food.
  • It’s SO lovely too to Face Time with  Louise’s parents, Ron and Hedy, who are in London for a week, visiting her and their new baby, Coraly.  Great to see fotos of them too.
  • DON’T LAUGH or think I am sad (Ha,!!) but WOW technology made it possible for me to watch EastEnders, from my laptop here via Barry’s laptop to our TV in London!!!!  Mind-blowing!  The screen was so clear with subtitles as if I was watching it directly!  I wanted to know what happened after the Xmas/New Year drama!
  • Am very much looking forward to having Barry over here in 4 days’ time for 2.5 weeks…he has surprised me by booking a hotel in the city centre for one night on Saturday, so that we can explore the city easily, as I live in the north-east of the city. Transport is not easy from here.
  • We plan to go to Mysore the following weekend for 2 nights.
  • My ISL interpreter last week was lovely, from Indore – her Deaf parents set up a bi-lingual school for 600 Deaf children and 300 of them are residential!!!!!  Hope to visit one day.

That’s it for this week, otherwise you will drop off to sleep!

Love, Sandra x