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Shoukria's Story

My name is Shoukria.  I am 18 years old. I live in Kabul around 20 minutes from the PELICAN Center.

My family is very poor. I have 6 younger sisters and a brother aged 6. He is deaf and mute like me and like my Dad. Due to his handicap my father does not earn much money. He goes to the bazaar each day and sits in the street, repairing shoes. Most of the time he does not bring money to Mom who asks almost in tears: “How can I feed my children?”

Because of my incapacity to communicate, even with my family, my childhood was sad and hard. My mother used to give me all the housework because, she said : “You do not go to school and you will never go. So your duty is to take care of the whole household’s tasks!” it was so hard to stay and work at home as I dreamed about school, education and social life…

It has been 10 years since I came to the PELICAN Center for the first time. I don’t remember when my mom took me there and how she found out concerning this NGO, but I do remember how I was amazed by all the good things I saw that very first day. Some games and items were incredible!  For example: Toothbrushes! …And at the end of the morning all the children received nutritious meals.  After our lunch we were invited to clean our teeth! That was such an exhilarating experience! The toothbrushes were very beautiful and the paste tasted of menthol, I loved it!

I remember also that the foreign lady came to my home. It was nice to have her but the sad part was that Mom felt a bit ashamed as she did not have cookies and stuff to give her. I also felt bad.

At that time the project did not have any sign language lessons. So it was difficult for me to study, but I tried hard, as I loved so much to get an education. Also it was very nice for me to stay half of the day, in the center. I could rest, play, study and have a good meal far away from my boring chores. I made friends in playing dodge-ball because I was very good at it.

I concentrated so hard when reading the words on my teacher’s lips  that I got headaches. I studied Dari, Math and a little of English. I did not understand this strange language but I liked to study it nevertheless. In that time, I wrote a lot.

Then the center was torn down so that the street could be enlarged. I was so sad!  2 months later we were welcomed again to another location around 1 km further away. All the students came and we were all so happy!

Then the expatriates found a good sign language teacher. Ms Rita started her job with le PELICAN. That was wonderful. The group of deaf and mute increased considerably. I learned to communicate with Sign language. I was now able to say what I wanted, and express how I felt. All my frustration and anger went away! I could ‘chat’ with other deaf and mute friends. Some months later we were told that if we wanted, we could join a tailoring project! Wahoo!!! All my friends enrolled themselves and I did too.

Everyday I became happier. Being among other deaf and mute girls help me to accept more easily my handicap.

I made a lot of progress and my teacher Rita encouraged me and complimented me many times. I became the best student of my group! I was very proud.

Then, one very sad thing happened: my mother who had just had another baby,  wanted me to stay for 3 months at home. I was heading back to my sad life, of housework, baby care and no chance to communicate anymore as my family does not know sign language. I came to the center with broken heart and tears running all day long. I said good bye. When the foreign lady saw me in this state she asked me the reason. I explained everything and she was very sad too! Then she asked my mother to come. She had an idea in mind but she did not tell me what it was…

The idea was wonderful: I was asked if I wanted to be a teacher assistant to Ms Rita.  My heart pounded, with hope and joy.

For 6 months now I have been a sign language teacher – and proud of it!

I provide money for my family which is so good. Before we were so poor that people came to give food and clothing. Now we eat good meals and we even can buy extra things.

My great joy is also to help the small deaf children to be able to communicate in Sign language. I remember so well how it was hard and sad without this and how the life could be boring and full of gloom.

I realize that not only sign language opens up to the world but it is also indispensable to build relationships and to be part of society. And when I consider the financial great help for my family I become proud and joyful.