center for children with hearing loss
Hearing aids and speech therapy for children with hearing loss, thorough training for teachers and care workers and comprehensible advice for parents – these three pillars form the basis of the work carried out at the Ha Giang Center in Vietnam, a project run by the Swiss aid organization Caritas with support from the Hear the World Foundation.
Place & Year
Project PartnersCaritas Switzerland
Vietnam’s economy has been developing at record speed and its government has finally established a legal basis for integrating children with hearing loss into society. However, the government’s severely limited budget is making it difficult to enforce this legislation effectively – particularly in poor provinces such as Ha Giang. The Swiss arm of the aid organization Caritas, with support from the Hear the World Foundation, has already made a big impact at the Welfare Center for Handicapped Children based in this region. The frameworks that have been established for supporting child development, ensuring teacher training and providing information for parents need to be consolidated and expanded. Children with hearing loss can stay at the center for two years, during which time they are thoroughly examined, supplied with hearing aids and given individual support and speech therapy in addition to normal school lessons. Meanwhile, their parents are provided with specific tips on how to operate their children’s hearing aids and instructions on how to practice speech exercises at home. At the same time, increasing numbers of teachers and other care workers are also undergoing professional training to help them deal with children with hearing loss.
You have to stay focused to achieve long-term success
Keeping track of several areas of activity at once is crucial for guaranteeing the sustainability of the project. There are 480 children with hearing loss in the province who still need good monitoring and support on a continuing basis. There are also 250 trained Vietnamese educators whose knowledge needs to be kept up to date and passed on. Caritas, which has 15 years of experience in working on these kinds of projects, favors the method of training up “core teachers,” who in turn can spread their knowledge and skills throughout the country and thus wean themselves off support from foreign organizations in the long term. However, parental cooperation is also essential for ensuring that children continue to make good progress after they leave the Welfare Center and are able to attend mainstream school. Parents often lack the knowledge and education needed to actively support their offspring, and most of them are burdened by financial worries too. Workshops and easily comprehensible handbooks offered by the Welfare Center project have provided beneficial information to more than 200 parents to date.
8-years old Nguyen learns how to read and write
On the way towards independence Nguyen Thi Huong has been affected by hearing loss since birth. She comes from a poor peasant family in the mountains of Vietnam. Before Huong came to the Ha Giang Center in 2008 at the age of 8, she could neither hear nor read and write. But there, the bright young Vietnamese girl received a hearing aid and intensive individual tuition. In spite of her parents’ best endeavors, Huong repeatedly regressed in the school vacations. It was not until a conversation between the teacher and her parents that things were turned around. Now Huong uses her hearing aids regularly at home, she can carry on simple conversations and attends the local mainstream school in the same class as her younger brother.