Hearing loss changemaker Snigdha Sarkar

Snigdha Sarkar Co-founder of parent support group India

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“One evening in 2004, a few parents got together in Kolkata, India to talk about their deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) children. No one knew all the answers. But after some sharing, we felt lighter and happier. We started meeting once a month and brought our children along too.

Cheerful and confident, sharing each other’s strength, and helping one another, we became empowered. We saw a purpose beyond the self. Most of us were housewives, people considered of no importance. We felt as individuals for the first time. Soon, we founded and registered Anwesha Kolkata, a parent support group.

We work in two areas. One is to help each child grow to their fullest potential. The other is creating awareness, educating the community, and advocating for the children’s rights. For example, we successfully advocated for language rights for deaf children in our state. The group also learned about informed choice and the importance of DHH youth learning to self-advocate.

Over the years, Anwesha Kolkata has earned a reputation for its contribution and has received awards from the state and private bodies a number of times. We played an important role in forming and strengthening Pratidhwani West Bengal, an umbrella organization of parent support groups.

We took part in the Family Centred Early Intervention (FCEI) Congress in Austria and our horizons broadened; we became a member of GPODHH – Global Coalition of Parents of Children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. One of our members represents GPODHH in the World Hearing Forum (run by the World Health Organization) and is part of the World Hearing Day Core Group.

This has been a rewarding and enriching journey for the group, yet the gaps in universal neonatal hearing screening and early intervention, and the lack of systemic support in the lives of DHH children are still felt acutely. Anwesha Kolkata works untiringly towards eradicating these gaps and looks forward to a day when DHH children and persons will not be left behind.”

Snigdha Sarkar is a Changemaker who supports the call in the World Report on Hearing for hearing care for all, now. Help change the world for those with hearing loss by sharing her story.