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Back Mari Bitsadze - Equality Reporter

Mari Bitsadze - Equality Reporter

Hello, my name is Mari, I am 18 years old and I am hard of hearing. I was two years old when I was diagnosed. My mother recalls: „Time stood still that day, the entire world turned upside down. Specialists told me – you should get used to it, you should learn sign language to understand her, take her to a school for the deaf and mute.“ My mother decided to confront the destiny, we practiced day and night, she was reading me stories, singing to me, she used to cut out pictures from books and explained meaning of each word. Gradually I was able to understand words by hearing. She took me to best speech therapists in Tbilisi for speech development but unfortunately, I was not able to pronounce a single sound. My mom didn’t give up. After a lot of searching she found Ms Manana in Kutaisi. We packed up and left.

Ms Manana welcomed us with love. She gave hope to my mom and promised that I would start speaking with her help. The process of learning was not easy. We used to practice for hours. She came up with different games to make sure that I wasn’t bored. I remember how happy she was when I was able to pronounce my first sounds. Sounds were followed by syllables, syllables were followed by words. I was four when I started reading a primer.

She is the greatest teacher in the world – who has proven that nothing is impossible. This is the person who lives for children like me, whose happiness is our success, she never says no to anyone, even when there is only a glimmer of hope. She works seven days a week. She teaches children from poor families free of charge. She was showing my accomplishments to other parents who were in despair. She gave them hope and told them that with a lot of work and involvement, their children too could become equal to other children. She convinced them that disability doesn’t mean inability.

Now I understand how my teacher, Manana was trying to help me with my low self-esteem. I always wore my hair down, to make sure that others didn’t see my hearing aid. When we sat down to practice, she would push my hair back and say: this is much better. Once she told me: „Can you see how many children wear glasses? Can you imagine what will happen if they try to cover their glasses with their hair?“ I imagined what they would look like and I laughed a lot. She made me realize that I’m not an exception and I shouldn’t be ashamed of or try to hide my hearing aid.

My teacher Manana introduced many children to the new world. She gave hope to so many parents.

We returned to Tbilisi with our heads held high. I was seven when I started going to an ordinary school. This year I made my dream come true and became a student. I chose psychology as my profession. In the future, I want to help others become fully-fledged members of the society.

The Equality Reporter competition was organised by the Council of Europe Office in Georgia together with the Government’s Administration of Georgia in the framework of the “I Choose Equality campaign run by the co-operation project “Fight against Discrimination, Hate Crimes and Hate Speech in Georgia”The project is implemented under the Council of Europe’s Action Plan for Georgia 2020-2023 with the support of the Danish Neighbourhood Programme in Georgia (DANEP).

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