In a first, a differently-abled girl from Gujarat will be representing the country at the Miss Deaf International pageant in the United States. With over 44 short-listed participants from across the globe, the competition will be held in Las Vegas next month.
Karishma Lamba (22), an Ahmedabad-based girl, is among the two participants from India. “This is not just a beauty pageant, but a competition in which the girls will also be judged on their confidence level, knowledge and other skills. To be groomed in all these is not an easy task,” said Hema Lamba, Karishma’s mother.
Although, taking part in a beauty pageant was never in her wishlist, Karishma had to beat the odds to educate herself. She completed her schooling in an Ahmedabad-based Gujarati medium school for deaf.”After she completed Class X, our concern was to get her married, but she wanted to study further. There were many hardships that she faced in her education and later we came to know about Mook Badhir Mandal (MBM) in Vadodara which counselled her on studying further,” said Hema.
Now, a first-year student of commerce in an Indore-based Deaf college, Karishma has also participated in national-level badminton competitions. “As she is from a Gujarati medium school, she had to start from scratch to learn English, Hindi and also American sign language for the competition. Her teachers groomed her for this contest,” said Hema.
Rajesh Ketkar, a member of the MBM, said, “One of the major aims of our NGO is to promote deaf women’s empowerment. Things do not come easily to us and such an international platform is a learning experience. There has never been any participants from Gujarat in the past.”
The contest will be held between July 14 and 23. “I have always strongly felt that girls with hearing disability should receive education as we are equally capable of fending for ourselves. I want to pass on whatever I have learnt to other deaf girls so that they can come up in life as well.” said Karishma.