Nepal, Earthquake, Deaf Survivors and How You Can Help!

Picture courtesy of DeafWay
Written by Thomsen Young and you can follow him @

Update as of May 2, 2015:

As more information becomes more available, we keep learning more information about the devastation that the recent earthquake has caused in Nepal. It is heart-wrenching to scroll down on Facebook to see the latest video of the massive earthquake in this instant-internet world that we live in. Yet, the world is looking after each other by quickly coming to their aid and doing what they can to help Nepal rebuild and get the food and services they need.

Posted by World Federation of the Deaf Regional Secretariat for Asia on Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Several organizations are actually trying to do what they can to help people who were affected by the earthquake that live in Nepal who are deaf/hard of hearing. The fact is that it can be scary to be deaf/hard of hearing during a time of immense crisis especially one that is a national disaster.

International Deaf Emergency Inc’s is doing a fundraiser to be one of the first emergency response for people who are deaf/hard of hearing. They are trying to raise over $9000 to support up to 30 families that they know that has been affected by the Nepal Earthquake

Estimated 30 families are in need of help. $200 will support one family for a month: 200×30 = $6,000
$1,000 for local Deaf organisations
$2,000 as a security fund

Total of $9,000 is needed to make this emergency operation possible.

Another organization is Deafway, based in England, more specifically, Preston, Lancashire who is also doing a fundraiser who has a long standing relationship with Nepal for over 15 years. According to DeafWay,

We’ve built and supported schools for Deaf children, projects which teach Nepali Sign Language and basic numeracy and literacy to deaf children and adults, and an amazing project in the Kathmandu Valley for older deaf people who’ve never been to school.

What is scary is that they have very little information about if the schools that they have founded and projects are still standing/running or even alive. This is what they know so far:

Our two project officers who are based in Kathmandu (Dipa and Sunita) are safe – but they, like most people in Kathmandu are sleeping outside at night because of fear of buildings collapsing as a result of the continuing aftershocks.
The school in Pokhara is safe.
The school in Sindhuli is safe, but I was talking to the Headteacher last night via Facebook and whilst he was telling me that the children were sleeping outside with the housemother/cook, warden and school director sleeping with them – there were strong aftershocks happening.

DeafWay has been urgently trying to raise money quickly because they know that survival is critical. DeafWay has a even bigger fundraising goal than International Deaf Emergency, Inc and want to raise $20,000. They are asking people to donate so that they can:

1). To keep all of our projects running so that the staff are there to reassure and support Deaf children and adults and to work with them to enable them to access the help that is now starting to get to parts of Nepal – and 2). To address any individual urgent needs that Deaf people will have (e.g. many Deaf people will have lost all of their possessions in the earthquake).

According to TheBee, David Hynes, is quoted as saying,

“There are so many areas in Nepal that are isolated which makes access to medical care very difficult or impossible. Something that could start off as a minor ear infection – if untreated – can get worse and worse, and can end up being profound deafness.”
“There’s also probably a higher proportion of genetic deafness in Nepal. Again, because there are so many isolated areas and so many different ethnic groups.”
“There’s more marriage within one ethnic group that may be isolated in a mountainous area of Nepal, so if there is genetic deafness within that community, that can continue – rather than fade out and be diluted, as would happen in the West or broader populations.”

While DeafWay is not a disaster relief charity, they really want to raise the money to employ people to travel the isolated areas to make sure they are getting the support they need.

David Hynes points out that, “The concern that we have is that deaf people are being forgotten. The aid agencies will use FM radio to tell people where the support is, they’ll use written leaflets, they’ll use TV and that’s fantastic. But for deaf people in Nepal – their first language is sign language.”

Indeed, let’s make sure that people who are deaf in Nepal are not being forgotten and let’s do our part by sharing and spreading the message that deaf people of all ways of life will not be forgotten or left behind!

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