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Heroes

Middleburry Hero Rebeya

Middlebury College Hero is Creating Opportunity for Deaf Women

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Rabeya Jawaid ’16 launched her presentation without saying a word, yet no one in the crowded Axinn classroom could look away. Jawaid was speaking Pakistani sign language, making a visual point about the work she did with impoverished deaf women in Karachi over the summer. After a minute, she began to speak.

“As a Pakistani woman, I can tell you it’s not easy being a woman in Pakistan,” she said. “It’s definitely not easy being a poor woman in Pakistan. So I just want you to imagine what it’s like being a deaf poor woman in Pakistan.”

Jawaid said an internship at a deaf research center in Karchi a few years ago sparked her interest in sign language and deaf culture. She wanted to do something to promote financial independence among the women she met there, who had little prospect for employment.

Sitting in her Middlebury College dorm room, Jawaid hatched an idea to train deaf women in sewing, screen-printing and embroidery, giving them entrée into Pakistan’s flourishing clothing industry. This past summer Jawaid successfully launched her skill development plan, hiring skilled trainers – conversant in sign language, of course – and recruiting trainees. Most importantly, she took meticulous notes so that future trainers could reproduce the process.

Her project was one of four funded in part by summer grants from Middlebury’s Center for Social Entrepreneurship. Students from each group shared their summer experiences with the campus community at the Axinn Center on Friday. The projects, which also took place in Chicago, Swaziland, and Burundi, were a chance to test out solutions to a range of social problems.

“We saw a lot of collaboration with community partners, which was really important,” said Heather Neuwirth, associate director of the Center for Social Entrepreneurship. “Most of these projects had a component of going home to a community that was really understood. It was a way of saying, ‘I want to work with my community.’”

One Revolution is proud to highlight Rabeya as our hero of the day!

– See more at: http://sites.middlebury.edu/middmag/2013/09/17/midds-young-social-entrepreneurs-tell-stories-from-the-field/#sthash.ihO4J1Ov.dpuf

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