A passion for the hearing impaired in the community.
Contributed By Jeremy Chua
In typical Chinese New Year fashion, one can expect to hear loud cries heralding well wishes and greetings for the coming year accompanied by the tossing of the yu sheng. The Talking Hands’ gathering of hearing-impaired individuals was different, yet even without the loud shouting, the well wishes and hope for the new year was palpable in the atmosphere.
Held on the eighth day of the Lunar calendar year at The Raja Inn at Tiong Bahru Plaza, this CNY lunch marks the first of many exciting events in store for Talking Hands this year. Over 60 people, inclusive of members, volunteers and even new friends and family, were present at the lunch, filling up more than half of the venue.
With a passion to serve the hearing-impaired community in Singapore, Talking Hands has, to date, trained nine batches of volunteers in sign language, reflecting the growing number of people they are impacting. Ian Lee, who joined Talking Hands in October 2009, shared his motivation for becoming a volunteer, “I joined firstly because I wanted to learn a new skill; secondly, I have friends who are hearing-impaired whom I want to be able to converse with more effectively.”
Besides the festive atmosphere, there was a strong sense of kinship and camaraderie in the air. There was a good mix of both senior and junior volunteers, as well as members and families at each table, and everyone was talking to one another in flurries of hand signals, with expressive smiles on their faces. It was evident to even the most casual of bystanders that this is a tight-knit group.
|CN PHOTO: Gabriel Seow
Members of Talking Hands love events such as this. Karen, an active member of Talking Hands, invited four of her friends to the lunch. She said, ‘It is great to have more and more new people join us. The more the merrier.” Jeremiah Oon, one of the youngest members of Talking Hands, agreed. “All the events by Talking Hands have been very successful. We’ve gotten to know people, we’ve had good food, and fun-filled outings.”
The next outing that Talking Hands members can look forward to will be Family Day. Jacqueline Sng, a senior volunteer, said, “Family Day is meant to give the members, the first for this group, an opportunity to serve one another as well as the community.” The event will bring together members, families, volunteers and members of the public.
In addition, Anson Ang, Talking Hands coordinator says that this year, plans are also in the pipeline to start small scale activity groups. These include monthly interest groups to cater to the hearing-impaired in the community who share similar interests in activities such as sports and shopping and bimonthly enrichment classes for make-up, grooming, art and craft.
With the positive attitudes and the enthusiasm of both volunteers and members, you can be sure that these Talking Hands won’t be quietening down anytime soon.