Deafness on the island of Bali

I was introduced to Sam in May this year at Offerings annual fundraising event. He was very interested in the work Offerings was doing in Indonesia with special needs, especially on the island of Bali. It appeared he had a good friend, Adrienne, who lived in Bali who was very interested in supporting the acceptance, education & advancement of children with deafness. Adrienne’s mother & father were deaf. Sam was sure the two of us should meet. I later learned that another friend of mine was interested in having me connect with someone she knew on the island of Bali. Sure enough it turned out to be the same Adrienne. Synchronicity!

Sam connected the two of us through email & it was set in motion that once I got to the island I would reach out & we would enjoy some great coffee & discuss our commonalities.

Our first meeting was non-stop getting to know each other in relation to our special interests. Three hours later we took a breath & decided we should meet again very soon.

That day I saw my life come full circle, remembering my favorite film, The Miracle Worker seen at age 10 & my first baby sitting experience with two deaf mute children, Barry & Susan, thinking I would become a teacher for the deaf but instead had opened schools for children with Autism. A detour for sure, but now I was faced with finding a way to help support deafness on the island of Bali. Isn’t life interesting?

I soon learned that there were a few schools for the deaf on the island in Jimbaran, Denpasar, Klungkung & Singarja. The main school a boarding school. I learned that about 60 students went to that school. I learned that there was a congenital recessive gene common the Balinese community, here before the Dutch colonized, responsible for the large numbers of children born with deafness.

Adrienne shared her frustrations with the lack of acceptance, education & job opportunities for children with deafness. She was very unhappy that teachers did not know sign-language & that there were not enough hearing aids for all. On one of the web sites discussing the deaf community in Bali it was noted that only 10% of those identified with deafness ever went to school and only one in 40 received a hearing aid.

I also learned that hearing aids here on Bali were best if they were an older model as repair work on the newer models wasn’t always possible due to lack of knowledge about maintenance.

Prior to meet Adrienne the 2nd time, I connected with my friends at YPK & learned that Yayasan Kemanusiaan Ibu Pertiwi (YKIP) helped get hearing aids to those in need. So during my second meeting with Adrienne, I connected her to my friends at YPK so together they could find solutions.

I am now very interested in finding out what is happening to these older model hearing aids in America & if perhaps there is a way to get them to the island of Bali if they are no longer of use.

Karen Kaplan
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