Hundreds of people with hearing impairments are now able to access mainstream opportunities, thanks to an Islamic Relief project in Chechnya.

At least 530 people with hearing impairments have benefitted from the project, which provided lessons in reading and writing in Arabic, Chechen, and Russian, alongside sign-language. The project also offered Muslims the chance to learn more about their faith, with classes on Islam.

Apty Bazaev learned sign-language and attended classes on Islam.

Apty Bazaev learned sign-language and attended classes on Islam.

Over 3,000 people living in the Chechen Republic are thought to have hearing impairments. Typically marginalised, many are unable to access even basic education services – preventing them from being able to build successful lives for themselves and forcing them to depend on small state disability allowances to survive.

Islamic Relief set up its Development Centre – which is based in Grozny – in 2013, and last year expanded access to the scheme by delivering outreach services to rural communities across 11 districts. The community classes reached those who were unable to travel to the city.

Building skills for life

In total, some 310 adults attended free classes, and 220 children enjoyed lessons at their boarding school. Apty Bazaev, 32, was amongst those to benefit. As a child, he struggled in a mainstream school, where his hearing impairment made it hard for him to hear his teachers. He eventually attended the boarding school for children with hearing impairments, and later undertook our training in sign-language and the basics of Islam.

Volunteer Makka Akhmadova has praised the project.

Volunteer Makka Akhmadova has praised the project.

Makka Akhmadova, 49, is a volunteer working with people with hearing impairments. She is very pleased that the young women she works with in a sewing group have been able to attend classes.

“My girls were glad about the opportunity to attend the training,” she said. “They made good progress in their studies. After the training, they began to pray and their self-esteem has increased. It is a very good project.”

“I am very thankful to everybody, who made this possible,” said Saeed Bachaev, 46, who lives in Katar-Yurt village in Chechnya.

He and his wife are both hearing-impaired, and, after successfully completing classes, he was one of those employed as an assistant trainer for the project – helping to transfer their new skills to others, develop their confidence and enabling them to earn a living.

Saeed Bachaev was employed as an assistant trainer.

Saeed Bachaev was employed as an assistant trainer.

Thirty students were also invited to Kuwait to participate in intensive sign language classes.

The study materials, including 1,500 CDs, produced by the project have been freely distributed for use by others with hearing impairments. Project equipment has now been handed over to the Chechen Union of the Hearing Impaired – which has supported our seasonal food distributions since 2010 – to help ensure continued support for disabled people.

The scheme was lauded by the local Economy Ministry and ended in November 2014. It is among a range of schemes delivered by Islamic Relief in the Russian Federation.