Have you ever got inspired by your own struggles? In a world where we often seek our inspiration from outside, this guy gets his from his daily struggles. Say hello to Mohd Aqil Sayeed Hajee who is trying to make it easier for the deaf and dumb community to comprehend and gain knowledge in English and use technology to facilitate communication.
Having challenges pursuing his studies right from the fifth grade to graduation in a hearing world and spending a childhood where education was a concern for the deaf, Aqil has come a long way working on making environment accessible for his community and fellow learners. Although his school gave him loads of warmth and affection, they were not aware his real communication needs to contribute to his real growth.
In 2005, Aqil started his initiative LEED PUNE (Leadership Education Empowerment of Deaf) with one goal in mind to bring together all those hearing Indian Sign Language interpreters who require a common platform to share their experiences, adapt to the real needs of the community and receive guidance and opportunity to upgrade their interpreting skills in India.
The cause of empowering the deaf youth with language skills, which he took upon himself, helped them to open up to the world of information and comprehension in the best possible experiential learning format. In the days when having a mobile phone was a novelty and not many deaf youths owned a mobile phone, Aqil’s very moment of struggle enabled him to do something with help of SMS interpretation. Learning and writing in English gave him and his deaf friends the literacy to connect.
To see the transformation from being shy, unsure and low self-esteem into confident individuals who started believing in their own skills and also understood their potential untapped skills, LEED has come a long way in youth empowerment and that every person associated with Aqil’s initiative has a dignified job in different sectors and domain skills. Aqil lives by the motto – Everyone should empower at least one person through the sharing of knowledge.
LEED is not a company or an NGO; it’s the gap they thought could be fulfilled to address the needs of the community. It is a cause to address larger and progressive development. For Aqil providing quality education to deaf students in school, learning English and helping them get a job is his endeavour. At LEED, it is their mission to catch hold of deaf people while they are young and show them what they can achieve and that they can aspire and fulfil their
In Aqil’s words “There is no shortcut to success and being deaf is a hidden disability. They can do anything that the hearing people can except hear”. His only message to all our readers is to not treat deaf people as disabled and give equal opportunity as they too possess the ability to tap their potential and learn solid work skills. We appeal to open the doors of education, employment to this community; they too have a right to a dignified life. Shalom!
Contributor: Kashish Ambekar