TINNEVELLY DIOCESAN TRUST ASSOCIATION
TDTA Tirunelveli Diocese

Pastoral Ministry among Deaf People

Head Quarters:
CHITTENDEN DEAF CENTRE,
No.1, Ambai Road, Kulavankgarpuram,
Palayamkottai – 627002,
Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, India
Branch Centre:
ST. PAUL’S DEAF CENTRE
TDTA School Campus,
CMS Building
Sankarankovil 627756
Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, India.

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DEAF COMMUNITY IN THIS REGION

There are about 2000 profoundly and congenitally deaf people in Tirunelveli region. Deaf people being outsiders of the hearing world form their own community with shared experiences of being hearing impaired and having their own language and culture. The method of communication of this linguistic minority group is often sign language, which is the concept-based language of signs. It is the mother tongue of deaf people.

Deaf people often face situation in which they loose their dignity, self respect and esteem and they are often marginalized, oppressed and deprived of equal rights. They often experience isolation, stigmatization and marginalization, not mainly because of their inability to hear; but largely because of the attitude of the hearing world around them. Often they are looked on as recipients of charity and not people with equal rights and dignity in the body of Christ.

MISSION STATEMENT

The Tirunelveli Diocesan Pastoral Ministry among deaf people is the practical outworking of the Church’s concern for the everyday and ultimate needs of its deaf members and it aims at enabling the deaf people to receive the good news of Jesus Christ that brings them new status, new dignity and self worth as His sons and daughters and empowerment to have equal participation with equal right in the life of the Church and Community.

WHOLISTIC PASTORAL MINISITRY

The Pastoral Ministry among Deaf People is the first of its kind in this large country. It is a ‘wholistic mission-model pastoral care’, which attempts to meet the economic, social, psychological, spiritual and sacramental needs of deaf people. It was launched in the year 1997 by the then Bishop Rt. Rev. Jason Dharmaraj. The Rev. JIE Sutherson was appointed as the first chaplain of this ministry and he served for ten years. To anchor this ministry a deaf centre consists of Deaf Chapel, community hall, office of the chaplain was constructed and dedicated on the 18th of August 2001. And the chaplain quarters was dedicated on the 20th November 2002. Additional rooms were constructed for the home for the deaf women in the year 2003. As it was mentioned in the mission statement the spiritual ministry is the main objective of this ministry along with that socio-economic activities also carried out for the welfare deaf people.

I. SPIRITUAL ACTIVITIES

1. Sign language worship services
The deaf people are given equal opportunity to worship their Lord in their own language and to receive His word just in equal terms with their hearing counterparts as ‘sign language’. Further it enables them to receive the word of God in their own language. The sign worship services are conducted in seven towns among which we have (fellowship halls) chapels in Palayamkottai and Sankarankovil all other towns the fellowships are conducted in the local churches.

  •  Palayamkottai
  • Sankarankovil
  • Vikramasingapuram
  • Paavoorchatram
  • Vallivoor
  • Samariah
  • Rajapalayam

2. Preparing for Baptism and Confirmation
The deaf people those who attend the sign worship services are prepared now and then for baptism and for confirmation by the chaplain.

3. Annual Deaf Conference
Every year during the month of September Deaf People Conference is being conducted by the Chaplaincy. This is the time of fellowship for the Deaf People who attend this meeting from throughout Tamil Nadu (Tamil Speaking State). There is a Singing, Prayer and listening to God’s message.

4. Scripture Examinations
Once in a year Bible Examination are conducted for deaf people from the prescribed Bible portions.

5. Daily Bible Verse Book
To memorize one verse in a day a special Bible Verse book is published for them.

II. SOCIAL ACTIVITIES
1. Counseling and Vocational Services
Psychological as well as Christian counseling and vocational guidance services are extended to the deaf people who visits the deaf centre .The social worker who works at the deaf centre accompanies the deaf person who needs assistance to go to hospital, to attend interviews or to approach the government offices.

2. Matrimonial Guidance
The deaf centre acts as a mediator between the bride and the bride groom families to arrange a successful married life to the deaf people.

3. Gwenda Chittenden Home
Gwenda Chittenden Home for the Elderly Deaf Women was started to provide residential care for the homeless elderly people in the year 1999. Earlier it was attached to the deaf school. New buildings were built for the home in the year 2003. At present it cares for 11 Aged Deaf Women who have nobody to care. They are provided healthy food, good accommodation and medical care at free of cost. It provides good quality of residential care for them and enables them to have self-worth and self Dignity as precious children of the living God.

4. Family Based Scheme for Poor Elderly Deaf Men
This programme was started on the 10th of February 2004. It was inaugurated by then CMS General Secretary Canon Tim Dakin. The deaf centre found out that there are very poor deaf men in isolated villages who do not involve in income generating economic activity due to their old age. They are dependents of the other members of their families, who are also poor. Hence they do not get good dietetic as well as medical care. Such people are receiving support every month under the Family based care for elderly deaf men. Every month these people are given a bag of rice and other groceries. At present Six people are benefited by this scheme.

5. Socio-Economic Help Scheme
Social economic help scheme are empowering the deaf people to work themselves to improve their economic status. Through this scheme we identify the needs of the poor deaf families and we give them the Tailoring Machines, Goat, etc., according to their level of interests.

III. EMPLOYMENT PROJECTS

1. Agro Based Employment Project for Deaf People
Chittenden Agro Based Employment Project for Deaf People were inaugurated in the year 2006. It was started in order to create employment opportunities for Deaf People, especially to those who are unable to seek any other potential employment. The Diocese allotted eight acres of land in the outskirt of this city for establishing this agricultural project. We are growing coconut trees, mango trees, Guava trees and etc at present three persons are employed in the farm.

2. Bakery Project
This project was inaugurated by the Bishop Jeyapaul David on the 25th December 2007 to create employment opportunities to deaf people. Further the building for the bakery show room was and dedicated on the 15th of August 2008. Here we prepare Cakes, Bread, Bun, Puffs and Biscuits. The bakery products are supplied to the college hostels and for the church festivals. It provides employment to five deaf people.

3. Ephphatha Canteen (Tea Shop)
This tea stall (canteen) has been run by the deaf school for many years in the premises of C.S.I mission hospital then it was handed over to deaf ministry on the 1st February 2004. It helps the deaf people in two ways, First of all it provides employment for three deaf men and at the same time the income from the shop is utilized for the deaf ministry. The new building for this canteen was built in the year 2008. The construction work was assisted by the students of Lincoln Minister school students England during their exposure programme. The new building was dedicated on the 6th of September 2008.

4. Tailoring Unit
The Tailoring unit was inaugurated on the 25th of October 2009 by the Bishop Rt. Rev. Dr. J.J.Christdoss. In this unit we stitch Cassocks for Clergy, Church Altar clothes and other vestments. This Tailoring unit provides employment for four deaf people.

IV. BRANCH CENTRE – St. Paul’s Deaf Centre, Sankarankovil
The Deaf Chaplaincy identified the need to have a branch centre at the northern end of the Diocese. Based on the study conducted by Alan Ferrier it is estimated that minimum 200 deaf people are in the Sankarankoil area as well as their families and predominantly most of them are economically deprived and socially excluded. However the real number will be much higher than the estimated since there are nearly 100 villages around Sankarankoil. The need of the deaf people are submerged and their invisible handicap never attracts the society consequently nobody bothers about deaf people and their cry for inclusion and empowerment.

Feeling the urgency of the hour the pastoral ministry among deaf people under CSI Tirunelveli diocese began to work among the deaf people of this region in order to empower their life spiritually and economically.

To initiate this, a small worship group for Deaf People at Sankarankovil with just 4 deaf people and the group met twice a month in the premises of the local Church. As the group quickly grew up to hold 20 people within a period of 6 months, arrangements were made to hold sign language worships on all Sundays. The local hearing congregation also encouraged the deaf people very much by integrating them in their festival services and special occasions/feasts/get-together. And on the same year 2006, ten deaf people belonging to traditional Hindu families received Jesus Christ by faith and received immersion baptism.

Further the local church has come forward to allot 20 cents of land to deaf ministry. In that land a deaf chapel was constructed in the year 2008 and the transit home was constructed in the year 2011 and blessed by our beloved Bishop Rt. Rev. Dr. J.J.Christdoss.

As the time went on the number of Deaf friends coming for worship and to visit Deaf Centre increased to 50 to 60 members. So to meet their spiritual, social, Psychological and other needs the chaplaincy appointed a candidate for ordination in the year 2011.

In April 2012 to give them secured employment we have initiated the various employment projects such us tea shop, bakery unit, Tailoring unit Bible book stall etc.

Since these projects are employed by the deaf people we need to have a residential social worker who understands the deaf people and able to supervise and guide in their daily work. Further the social worker may act as a mediator in between the customers and the deaf workers.

Since the need is evident and urgent it is planned to construct a building for residence of the social worker cum church worker. The construction of this building is in progress.

FUTURE PLAN
1. In order to generate funds for the ministry and give employment to the deaf people there is a plan to construct a retreat centre at Agro Based Farm.
2. Plan to construct a New Bakery Show Room as well as a Tailoring Unit at Tuckerammalpuram (The site allotted for Employment Project).
3. To start a printing press to increase the employment opportunities for the Deaf People.

VISION
This ministry looks forward to reach all the un reached, isolated deaf people in the community all over this region in the years to come and to enable them to receive the good news of Jesus Christ which gives them identity, dignity and empowerment to lead a meaningful life as living witnesses to the love of God.

A team of volunteers, trained in communication with deaf people are involved in this ministry along with the full time Chaplain. A few deaf people are also trained to become members of this team. Only the team work makes it possible to meet the large spectrum of ministry among deaf adults and children

PARTICIPATION
WE solicit your participation in this God’s ministry through:
• Your fervent prayers
• Your personal involvement in the programmers
• Your loving financial contributions
any contribution towards this ministry can be sent to the Chaplain for the Deaf.
In case of foreign donations, the cherub/draft may be drawn in favour of the Treasurer, Tirunelveli Diocesan Trust Association and the same may be sent to the Chaplain for the Deaf.

For any further information about this ministry please write to:

The Rev.J. Barnabas Appadurai
Chaplain for the Deaf People
Chittenden Deaf Centre
1, Ambai Road, Kulavanigarpuram,
Palayamkottai – 627 002,
Tamil Nadu, INDIA.
Phone: 0462-2581610
Email: chittendendeafcentre@gmail.com