Dutch woman offers a future to deaf children in Sri Lanka

For years now, Soroptimistclub Hoorn has been supporting the Dr. Reijntjes School for the Deaf in Sri Lanka. Dutch-born Tineke da Silva-Nijkamp founded the school in 1984. Since then she has helped many children with a hearing impairment, who otherwise would have been doomed to a life of slavery.

Tineke da SilvaTineke and her Sri Lankan husband Susiri moved to this distant country almost 40 years ago. Before that, she had worked for 12 years as a teacher for the deaf, at a special school in the Netherlands for, among others, Dr. J. Reijntjes. A documentary has been made about her life’s work: Silence in Sri Lanka. This documentary film shows Tineke’s dream came true: educating underprivileged deaf children from the poorest families in Sri Lanka so that they will be able to take care of themselves in future.

You can also support Dr. Reijntjes school for the Deaf!

Tineke: ‘If I could, I would travel to even more villages to look for deaf children and see how we can help them.’

Children from remote areas
On 2 February, 1984 Tineke set up the Dr. Reijntes School for the Deaf in Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. They started the first day with a group of 6 deaf pupils from remote villages. Two months later, the classroom was filled with 16 deaf children. Due to the great demand for education, many deaf children had to be put on a waiting list. Thanks to financial support from the Dutch foundation ‘Wilde Ganzen’ and the Kinderpostzegels Foundation (semi-postal stamps sold by school children door-to-door, to benefit children’s causes) a beautiful new boarding school could be built. The building was officially inaugurated by Dr. J.Reijntjes himself in July 1987. It was not long before a waiting list had again accumulated. A new wing was added to the school in 1995. The wing was officially opened by Dr. J. Reijntjes and the Ambassador, Mr. Bastiaan Körner. The number of pupils rose to 100. With Tineke’s help, small units were set up for deaf Tamil children in the northern and eastern parts of the country (war-torn areas) from 1997. Nowadays, these units operate independently. A new school, with facilities including a library and an examination/logopaedics room, was started in March 2005.

Without school there is no future
All the pupils come from the poorest families who are unable to contribute financially. In addition to this, 70 percent of the pupils is undernourished. At the school for the deaf, with boarding school, the children receive total care, including being issued with a free hearing aid from school. At school, children are taught to express themselves through sign language, Singhalese and English. They also have creative art lessons. At the age of 18, they receive vocational training. Without this school there would be no future for these children. In the documentary film Silence in Sri Lanka, three children (who attend the Dr. Reijntjes school) and their families are followed.

This documentary film can be bought for a small fee (proceeds of which will go to school) through:
Willemijn Reijntjes, willemijnreijntjes@hotmail.com.

The trailer of the documentary:

Engelse vertaling: Christel Koeleman

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