Past Present Future 01’17

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The new (miladi)-year 2017 just began, and even though it is still “new”, it also is already nearly two weeks “old”:
the white, blank pages of my organizer fill consistently, my last post is long ago, and while I’m observing the passing of time, I feel the need to reflect on things that passed and things to come.

Last year was full of change and development, sometimes very demanding and exhausting, but also promising and full of joy and beauty, alhamdulillah.
If I would have to put the essence of the last year into a few words, I would call it “transistion”.

A lot of my private life is very much related to my work life – in fact our school and everything connected to it IS our life – it is a life-project, present in our heart and mind 24/24h and 7/7days, alhamdulillah, and last year we had the chance to develop and realize many incredible things, alhamdulillah.
So, a lot of my reflections concerning the last year are related to the events and development of campus vivant’e and can be read on our latest newsletter here: https://ecolevivante.wordpress.com/2017/01/13/news-from-the-campus

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If I fade out the project and look at my personal last year, I see that I learned a lot about myself, I met very interesting people and made important life choices and changes. But there is, beside the very many other things, one thing that stands out in 2016:

It was the medical result we got last February that scientifically confirmed that our smallest son (3 years old) also is hearing impaired, just like our daughter, mashallah.
First, this was a shock and very sad news, even though we had suspicions since several months and were kind of prepared to the fact that he also is deaf. But it hurt. Just as it did 5 years before with our girl, and from time to time again.

But thanks God, subhanallah, the things changed to better and better; the burden of having two children who have difficulties to hear turned more and more out to be a blessing.
We got the chance to learn a lot together as a family and even with society here.
Through a professional volunteer from Berlin, who came living in our valley for more than three months, we, and the whole school (teachers, some parents and pupils), learned sign language and communication with the deaf. It was a real gift to see so many people beginning to happily signing and understanding each other.

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And it was and still is very touching to see especially our own two children evolving great communication skills between them and with others. Even our smallest boy’s capability to make himself understood by signs and words unfolds now in beautiful ways.
I can see how sign language helps him developing his spoken language and learning skills in general and how his older sister benefits from having a mate and someone who shares the situation with her. They support each other, they help and encourage each other, they grow and have fun together and they fight for their rights as 2 deaf children in a family of 4 hearing people.

It’s incredible to see their strength and courage in life. Allahumma barik.
So everything developed for the better, subhanallah, tabarakallah, and I am looking forward to accompany and to see those two little souls flourishing and growing in their own very special and  beautiful ways, teaching us a lot by just being who they are, inchaallah.

“after burden comes ease” – it’s so true, I assure you, we can count on HIM –  Allahu akbar!

Wishing you light, love, peace for 2017
and a never ending trust in God’s wisdom and the divine ways!

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Sometimes it hurts

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I sit here, reflecting over the recent very touching meeting with a nice professor from Germany, and I want to be alone. Today something inside myself feels sad. I need time to think, time to understand, again and again.

It’s one of these moments when some facts feel heavy and an obvious reality suddenly feels like a punch into the face.
It’s nothing new that hurts today, it’s the fact that our girl is deaf.

This is a fact I learned to accept and live with over the last four years – a situation we try to manage as well as possible, with the help of wonderful professionals and with all the chances of learning and growing within the great structure our own school offers us, alhamdulillah.

But today is one of these days, when sadness overflows and pain overwhelms me.

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It’s the sadness of not being able to communicate fully with our girl.
It’s the fact that she doesn’t hear me well, at least not enough to be together, side by side and chat just as I often do with her older brothers.
It’s the sadness about the fact that maybe 70% of our communication doesn’t reach her, that we always need eye contact to understand each other, and even then, with signs and mimic, still there are so many things I cannot transmit.
It’s also guilt of maybe not doing enough for her and recently also the reinforced doubts about our smallest son’s hearing capability, the suspicion and concern that he as well might be hearing impaired.
It’s the questions about blame and reason, about the “why?” and “how everything will go?”.
It’s one of these moments when my faith and strong belief in God’s wise destiny fell  kind of asleep and when I feel sorry for myself, astaghfirullah.

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I had to share this. For all those who might be in the same situation. Sharing helps. Acknowledging that it’s not always easy. Sometimes sadness arises –  I try to accept the sadness, let the tears flow, welcome the deep feelings, knowing that this too will pass, inchaallah. Everything is well, alhamdulillah.
Peace, friends.

 

 

Into the world of Signs

Many of you have asked over the last months how our little deaf girl and we as a family are coping with her situation (thank you so much for your concern!)  – so I decided to share here some of our way since last summer.

Learning how to express joy, gratitude, fear, hunger, boredom or anger without words; finding ways of communication in silence; figuring out how to catch someone’s attention without using sound – these are the tasks we have to learn with our little girl, because even wearing now excellent hearing aids, alhamdulillah, she still is and stays a deaf person with only little perception of sound.
To realize and accept this was hurtful and hard. Mashallah.
But alhamdulillah, our daughter is not totally deaf and some sound reaches her consciousness quite well. She doesn’t live in silence and is herself not silent at all, she babbles and chatters the whole day, subhanallah, she tells things that sound like nonsense to us but mean a lot to her. She uses the tones of her voice quite well and suitable to different situations, but there are some sounds she can’t observe and some letters she doesn’t get at all. She maybe gets about a third of what is said, so for example if you would say to her “salam aleikoum” she would maybe understand something like “aam aoum”.
Especially my voice she nearly doesn’t hear. And although a mother and her child feel a lot of things naturally and are, alhamdulillah, connected in intuitive ways, we need now skills to make conversation easier and deeper between us.

I’ve read a lot of books, websites and articles over the last year and I have spoken to a many people about the deaf world, about hearing impaired, about how to live with them, about possibilities on how to make a good living for our child and on how to support her best.
There are many different opinions and some are really contradictory and very black and white.
So in the end things are totally up to us and depend on what we want and wish for our girl, what values we have and what we think would be best in our specific situation.
And because we live far away from modern achievements and the latest scientific knowledge, we are (nearly) not influenced nor manipulated by trends and fashions (that sometimes do not prove themselves or change too quickly). This provides us with a kind of freedom and independence that I really value and count as a blessing, alhamdulillah.

For us it is clear now, that we want to raise our daughter bilingual, I mean not bilingual in Berber and German, but I mean in oral language and also in sign language; so we try to sign and to talk to her in the same time.
We want to hold open both doors for her, the door to the deaf world, but also that to the hearing one, so that she can live in both worlds and choose her own way with as less boundaries as possible, inchaallah.

We do not want to decide for her something as critical as a cochlear implant until she can decide herself, and we do not want to force her into something so difficult and hard to learn for her as the communication only by hearing and talking, always depending on lip reading and the functioning of the hearing aid.
We see how much she likes signing already and how quickly and with how much joy she learns it, trying at the same time to pronounce the words.
We want to open her as much of the horizon as possible and we want to give her the ability to communicate, to express and to get in contact with others in multiple ways. We also want her to meet other deaf people to relate to, young and older ones.

Living far away in the midst of the remote Atlas Mountains, we are free in our choice but need to do some effort to realize these aims.
With no doctors around, no help for hearing impaired people, no knowledge of sign language, with neither speech trainers nor special needs therapists near, we either need to drive to Marrakech (5 hours away) for support and treatment, or we need to establish something here by ourselves.

So we decided to tackle the situation and to try to turn it into something beneficial, with Allah’s will:
Through beautiful incidences, maktoob I would say, and by the help of very nice people we got in contact with other deaf persons and people who are proficient in sign language. Some already visited us and gave us wonderful first aid on our way into signing, and the meetings with these lovely people from Belgium and the United Kingdom were a gift for our daughter and motivated us to look now for people who come for longer periods to train us in sign language, but also to be a role model for her and to help us on the long run to establish a special needs department in our little school.

Our daughter is not the only one, there are other deaf children in this valley and our wish is now to bring them together and to provide for them a nourishing environment of possibilities to learn and to grow, inchaallah.
Within the bounds of the “école vivante” we want to give those children the possibility to have access to education according to their needs but integrated in a regular school.

The way is long and we are just in the beginning. There are many things to be considered, to be organized and a lot of knowledge to be sought. But we are feeling very positive and hopeful about it, alhamdulillah.

Over the next months several volunteers will come, God willingly, to help us establishing ways of communication with our daughter and to develop a local sign language with her and a few other deaf kids from here.
In small steps we aim to create a little centre for hearing impaired people and eventually also for other children with special needs, inchallah, integrated in our school.

If you are interested in supporting or participating in this special needs project of the “école vivante”, if you know someone who would like to, or if you want to support the school, please leave a comment or get in contact through: info(at)ecolevivante.com

You can also donate online to our French circle of friends, to support us financially.

Thank you for keeping us in your dua’ !

Assalamou aleikoum oua rahmatullahi oua barakatuh.

The School – an Annual Report

 

Salaam aleikoum dear friends and readers,

Over one year passed since the opening of our primary school “école vivante” in September 2010, mashaallah – A lot happened over this year: a lot of work and personal growth, a lot of joy and blessed moments, subhanallah. I would have never been able to imagine how this whole project enriched and in which ways it changed our lives, Allahu akbar. God is the Best of planners and I am deeply grateful and happy to give you some actual updates:

As you might remember, last spring I travelled, together with our daughter and our class teacher, to Switzerland to an advanced training in our partner-school – and as every time, also this meeting was a most helpful and enriching time and the intercultural exchange took again place both ways, alhamdulillah.

 

In early summer’11 motivated friends from Germanycreated a circle of friends called „Ait Bouguemz e.V.”, that is a registered non profit association with the aim to support our project, inchaallah.

Soon after, we went online with our own multilingual homepage (I still have to translate some parts into English and French, but alhamdulillah, it is already very detailed in German).

In July’11 already the summer holidays began. Our 16 pupils reached the expected aims and a beautiful celebration with all the children, families and friends marked the end of a successful first year and the school got, both locally and internationally, positive feedback and encouraging approval, Alhamdulillah!

Due to generous donations we were able to add new furniture and a classroom and to become larger after Ramadan – more than half of our own house is now for the school.
The team was extended by a new teacher and after the busy time of the new enrolling we have now, since September, 24 pupils, mashaallah.

 

During the whole last year a continual supportive exchange took place with our Swiss partners and in October two of their lovely teachers came to visit to further develop our trend-setting pedagogy together with the local team. These times are always very inspirational and an important part of this interreligious and intercultural project.

Since November a French language course for the young women of the valley takes place outside the main school hours and other public activities are in planning. We have lots of demands and many new ideas and it is such a blessing to feel accepted by the public, alhamdulillah.

Further donations allowed us recently to finally finish the pupil toilets in the backyard of the school. As you already know, they are so-called compost or humanure toilets and now our school also sets ecologically seen innovative examples.

 

The new year awaits us with many new adventures, plans and duties, inchaallah, and actually we are looking for a brave and motivated volunteer who is proficient in sign language or in special needs pedagogy (especially for hearing impaired children), to help us with the development of an education department for deaf children to be integrated in our school.

In order to exist, to grow and to develop the école vivante we are further dependent on your help and donations and we ask for your ongoing financial support!

Apart from sponsorships, which are to secure the existence of the primary school, further donations are now necessary to extend the school, to build new workshops for the public leisure centre and to organize a school bus.

The bank-account-informations can be found here at our website.
Donations in Germany, France and Switzerland are now deductible from tax.

The illustrated annual report, which you can download here, shows in detail the past, the now and the future aims of the whole social development project école vivante.

And the article, which appeared this summer in the English „Sisters Magazine“, shows again how everything began.

 

I am so very thankful and pleased to share this promising development of the école vivante with you all, alhamdulillah!

The whole team thanks the donors and supporters for their help, our friends and partners for their engaged cooperation and enriching ideas, all visitors for their motivating interest and all people for their good thoughts, encouraging words and prayers.

I especially thank you, dear readers, for your ever faithful visits here on this blog and for your lovely and thoughtful comments, and I wish you all the best for this New Year! 

May Allah bless you all, may He shower you with His mercy and provide you with lots of joy, happiness, fulfilment, peace and His pleasure in 2012, and may He always guide us on the right path, ameen.

I am looking forward to meet you here again this year, inchaallah,
masalama,

yours itto xxx  

 

Ramadan moubarak!

   
  

Salaam aleikoum friends,

Thank you so very much for your compassionate comments, gentle thoughts and abundant prayers to my last post which touched me deeply – ameen to all of them.
I will continue to share our silent journey with you and I am very thankful for your supportive words and some contacts I already made, alhamdulillah.

But today, as life goes on, we focus on something different: the blessed month of fasting.
Tomorrow Ramadan will begin in Morocco, inchaallah, and we still have some things to prepare: cleaning up, making a to-do –list for daily tasks and meal plan (with lots of freshs from the garden and homemade ice cream), sorting out books for this month, baking, finishing the Ramadan calendar…
(if you need more ideas on it, please look on the left side-bar under “current inspiration” or browse my “Ramadan”-category from the last years)

I wish you all a very blessed month, full of Allah’s mercy and guidance.
I wish you a sincere nia’ (intention), a growing Iman (faith) and in the end His acceptance for all of your good deeds. Ameen.
Ramadan moubarak! 1432.

The sound of Silence

 

How does water sound? What’s the singing of a bird? Is the falling of snow loud?

After more than a year of suppositions and questions, after long months of medical appointments and examinations, after putting ear tubes in and cutting adenoids out, and after several audiometric tests we know now for sure that our little girl is deaf.
She is seriously hearing impaired on both ears: one highly impaired, and one medium; her audible range is very limited to only heavy sounds.

Mashaallah. I know now what I always feared: she does not hear my voice – in fact, she never did. It takes time to realize the diagnosis with all its long term impact. All is very new to us.
I am reading and learning a lot at the moment and getting in contact with others. Alhamdulillah. We wait now that our girl gets her hearing aids, although we know that they will not make all good.
We will have to learn sign language to make communication deeper and easier for her and for us.
We will have to teach ourselves through professional speech trainers and we will have to focus on a whole new world and all its meanings: the world of silence.

I am thankful to have the chance to get information from everywhere. I am thankful for the advice from several doctors we met in Moroccoand Europe. I am thankful for the detailed diagnosis we finally got. I am thankful for the support we get from family and friends. I am thankful to see that there is very good and professional medical help in this country. And I am thankful that we have the possibilities to afford it. Alhamdulillah.

I know, Allah is the best of all planners. I know that He does not burden us with more than we could bear. And I know, He holds something better in everything we take with patience and deep faith.
Allahu akbar. I trust in Him. And I am thankful for what we have. Subhanallah.

We are ready to grow, to learn and to share this path with our little girl. She is so brave. Subhanallah. We are ready to make the best out of it, inchaallah.
And I would love to meet with others who have taken the same direction-  Happy to hear from you!

May peace be with you all!