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This Kashmiri teen gives a voice to sportspersons who cannot hear

February 6, 2018

Arwa Imtiyaz Bhat is just 16 years old and this class 10 student from Srinagar in Kashmir is playing an important role. She is giving a sound to silence.

Every morning, Arwa sets out to help a group of badminton players prepare for a tournament. She is not a coach or a player but she knows sign language and is helping some of the 250 sportspersons registered with the J&K Sports Association for the Deaf.

Arwa often gives up classes in school to accompany teams from Jammu and Kashmir to tournaments across India, reassuring the families and talking to organisers.

She is not paid anything for this. Her biggest reward, she says, is when the team performs well like in December 2017 when the J&K team won four gold, three silver and two bronze medals in the National Games for the Deaf in Ranchi.

Arwa's mother cannot speak or hear, and her brother, who is a good badminton player, is also deaf and dumb. She says that from childhood she has seen them struggle in the face of discrimination, both outside and within the family. So she has decided to do anything she can to help others who are deaf.

But for Arwa, who dreams of becoming a doctor, and her family, all of this has come at a cost. She has been scolded by her school for missing classes and her father says that its time someone showed some concern for his daughter.

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