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Tisa's story

Girl reading book with woman

Tisa is 11, and lives with her family in a small village in Bangladesh. Tisa has been partially blind and totally deaf from birth. Although her grandmother takes care of her, Tisa has had little independence and couldn’t carry out any daily living activities for herself when she was first identified by our local partner.

She was suffering from malnutrition, could not walk, and faced difficulty in communicating her needs to her family. The local community, and even her grandmother, believed she was surrounded by evil spirits, and she was considered a burden to her family.

Our partner in Bangladesh began working with Tisa in 2011. She was provided with nutritional support and then her vision and hearing were assessed. She was provided with glasses and hearing aids, and an individual education plan was prepared.

Our Deafblind Field Educator (DFE) began developing her skills to carry out daily living activities and worked with her grandmother too, so that she could reinforce this learning.

Through the support of Sense Bangladesh, Tisa has been trained over time in independent tasks such as eating and using the bathroom herself. She has been taught to identify objects such as her plate, towel, and cleaning pot and she has also been provided with some brightly coloured dresses and toys which are easier for her to see.

The DFE has worked with her family and local people to help them understand Tisa’s disability and change attitudes towards her.

Due to the support of the charity, Tisa has made real progress. Her nutrition levels are much improved and her grandmother is supporting her to conduct basic daily living tasks independently.

Tisa now expresses her hunger by showing a plate and she can eat by herself. She can also express her thirst and pour water from a jug to a glass. She uses the toilet and can go alone to the nearby well to collect water and bathe. She can dress and undress, can identify new and old clothes, and if she wants to go outside, she gives a scarf to her grandmother. Tisa can move around independently and is now able to play with her friends. These are huge strides forward for Tisa. These changes that were encouraged by the DFE will allow Tisa to grow and continue to learn in the future.

She and her family have experienced a real change in their quality of life as a result. Local neighbours are beginning to change their attitudes towards her too, with more positive views replacing earlier negative perceptions.

This year, Tisa reached a major milestone as she transitioned to her local mainstream primary school. This fits in alongside the My Turn to Learn project being run by partners in Sense Bangladesh.

She now enjoys going to school and is beginning to understand the activities and teaching techniques of her teachers. Tisa’s future is now much brighter. Her family is hopeful that she will continue to go to school regularly and that one day, she will be able to communicate fully by using sign language.

Sense International enables people with deafblindness to live, learn and thrive. For older children and young adults, the chance to develop skills for the workplace and to learn a trade is a vital step towards achieving these aims and transitioning to a more independent life. It also provides the opportunity to participate in wider society and to become valued and respected members of their communities.

First published: Friday 7 June 2013
Last updated: Wednesday 20 September 2017