VOLUNTEER | Together with the Families
Earlier this year, Dorothee joined ICC as a speech and language teacher in our Family Partners Programme. She and her husband Uwe also run a Western-style bakery in Changsha, a local social enterprise that hires and trains hearing-impaired adults.
Dorothee and Uwe first came to Changsha for a short visit in 1999. They were exploring the possibilities of helping hearing-impaired children. This is when they first came in touch with ICC.
“In 2002, we moved to Changsha and started teaching speech therapy at the Hearing and Speech Rehabilitation Centre. Over the years, we came to know some of the ICC staff and a few of the ICC children who came for speech therapy.
Last year, we were suddenly informed by the officials from the Hearing Centre that the children whom we were supporting didn’t · VOLUNTEER · need extra support any longer and we began to look at other options. It was then we were given the opportunity to join the Family Partners Programme as speech and language teachers.”
Joining the FPP Team During the Pandemic
“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, my start with the FPP team was quite different than initially planned! There were no in-person meetings or teaching. Instead, everything happened online, which was both a blessing and a challenge.
My husband runs a bakery where he trains and employs deaf adults. Due to his working hours, it is much easier for him to participate in online meetings and we enjoy being ‘together’ with the FPP team members online. I also have more time to learn about the challenges these children and families face.
Some of the children have a speech delay, some don’t talk yet, and a few we are helping to find better ways to communicate.”
While in class, we do a lot of different exercises like hearing, breathing, pronunciation exercises and massage to strengthen the muscles around their mouth.
Meeting the FPP Families
“There have been so many memorable moments over the past year that it is difficult for me to name just one to share! I often meet many families where the parents have split up because of the child’s special needs. I am touched by those who—together—care deeply for their child, especially fathers who are playing an active role.
There’s a father who takes his crying child into his arms and rocks her till she is all smiles again, several times a day. Or the father who designed and built two special chairs for his daughter, one for staying at home, one for going out. There’s a father who gives nearly all of his salary to his wife so she can remain in Changsha where two of their three children can get help. And the father who has built a specially-made bed and chair in his tiny workshop, so that his son and his wife can help him look after the shop when he is out for repairing work.
Different families, different stories, different needs and all of them have one thing in common: we all need love, acceptance and encouragement.
Thank you for helping us care for these families with children with special needs.”