Dorothee and Uwe Brutzer, from Germany, are glad for the opportunity to support hearing-impaired children in Hunan Province. They were introduced to the Changsha Hearing and Speech Rehabilitation Center of Hunan Province (HSRC) in 2001 by local friends. They began to help by sponsoring children and then taught at the centre for four years. During that time they also started to sponsor children at other centres or special education schools. Because of this financial help most of the sponsored children at speech therapy centres can do the full three-year course and some of them speak very well after finishing the training. In 2009, one of the sponsored girls won a province-wide speech contest.
Currently Dorothee Brutzer and a local colleague are working in the sponsorship program. About 90 hearing impaired children from poor families receive financial support for their training costs or school fees at six speech therapy centres and three special education schools throughout Hunan province. The sponsors receive reports about the progress, problems and situation of "their" child.
A big need is to encourage the families to value and love their children and not to see just their disability. To equip them better small libraries were opened at two speech therapy centres with children's books and educational books. They also offer some classes for the parents to help them to understand their child better. Hong Yu, the local colleague who is caring mostly for the sponsored children at the special education schools, is also teaching sign language for interested parents. Only a very few parents are able to use sign language to communicate with their child.
Some children from the countryside who went through the program are now in local primary schools. Once in a while a parent will call to tell how the child is doing. For most of the children it is quite difficult to manage at a normal school as classes are very big – 50 to 70 students. Often they don’t understand everything the teacher tells them so it is very important to encourage the parents to keep on helping their child with their lessons.
Some years ago the Brutzers were also involved in other projects, such as providing used but refurbished hearing aids. That project is no longer needed as needy families can apply for hearing aids at the Disabled Federation.