The boy made an Instagram page and shared it with his friends on WhatsApp, and asked them to support the initiative

While several groups and individuals have come forward in the past three months to do their bit in the fight against Covid-19 outbreak, 16-year-old Arnav Shah, a student of The Cathedral And John Connon School in Fort has been working to ensure the safety of those with hearing impairment.

A month ago, Arnav invited funds for his initiative ‘Naqab’, through which masks designed for the hearing impaired are being distributed. Unlike other masks, these special masks have a layer of plastic around mouth, so that those with hearing impairment can lip read.

Until Saturday, Arnav had distributed around 1,200 masks among non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and associations who work with those with hearing impairment.

“I made an Instagram page and shared it with my friends on WhatsApp, and asked them to inform their family and friends about the initiative and support as as much as they can. Until Saturday, we have collected around ₹2.11 lakh,” Arnav said.

Bandra-based Ali Yavar Jung National Institute of Speech and Hearing Disabilities is one of the institutes has received 500 masks through Arnav’s initiative.

“Many recipients who will receive the masks belong to the financially weaker sections of the society. While the government is providing us with funds for sanitisation, they will not provide us with masks. So when we resume operations, we can provide these masks to those who visit the institute,” said institute director Suni Mathew, adding that while such masks have been in circulation at Dehradun and in some places abroad, this is for the first time that they have been made for the hearing impaired in Mumbai.

The teenager came up with the idea when he saw his parents – both dentists – wear personal protective equipment (PPE) kits and masks to work.

“As my mother is a paediatric dentist, I realised that children would be scared to see her in PPE kits and masks. But if they could at least see her smile, then they wouldn’t fear her,” he said.

Arnav then approached Meemansa, a clothing manufacturing company, and requested them to make masks that are see-through. While each mask costs ₹25, Arnav has been providing them for free to the NGOs, and also intends to send some funds he has collected through crowd funding for rehabilitation of those affected by the cyclone.

“While most of our workers had left for their hometowns, 120 of them had been stuck in the city. We had managed to provide them with food for some time, but after a point we had to work to be able to pay them. Manufacturing of these special masks had required a lot of research because we needed the right kind of plastic to make them. In the end, we were able to manage,” said Priyanka Bapna, owner of Meemansa.

Courtesy: Hindustan Times

Hindustan Times