Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) are the biggest minorities in the world and being a person with hearing disability (PwHD) in Myanmar is quite difficult in terms of living independently.
The government only provided two schools for children with hearing disabilities in Yangon and Mandalay which have been leading to the unbalance of students and teachers ratio. Trying to reach the higher education level is more difficult than average people as PwHDs often cannot understand what the teacher is explaining.
Thet Nyein Khant is an 18 year old youth with hearing disability who was born and raised in an under-resource area. He started losing his hearing ability after his tooth was removed at the age of 4. Until 6 years old, he was able to hear a little but soon after he completely lost his hearing ability. Since then, he has to face many struggles as to reach out to the rest of the community.
Living in an under resources area had both advantages and disadvantages for him.
The advantage is that because of the low population in the surrounding area, it had made him easier to learn compared to PwHDs in urban cities as teachers and classmates were able to help and support him.
The disadvantage is that he didn’t learn proper sign language and connect with other PwHD as he lives in a village, a 2-hour drive from Monywar City.
Writing poems started from not having friends, no technology to reach out to the others and only books were there to spend time. As his mother and uncle were book lovers and sometimes wrote poems, Thet Nyein Khant ended up admiring them and started writing poems from the age of 12. His first poem was “Lay Lone Sat Poem” in which each line contains 4 syallables and a rhyming 3 lines.
Thanks to technological advances, he explored more and eventually changed his writings into “Modern Poem” styles. This has become the start of his journey in changing the silence he lived in to beautiful poems.
Thet Nyein Khant writing his poems
In 2017, he was able to connect with other poem hobbiest through social media. They made a group where they discussed poems and sometimes teach other newbies about this kind of literature.
Eventually, 6 of the group including Thet Nyein had this crazy idea of publishing a book of poems – and they did. The group published “Hexagon”, representing the 6 poet friends. And it didn’t stop there.
The 18-year-old had shaken the silent voices not just the PwHDs but also sa PWDs as after “Hexagon”, the PWD community started to be brave and find their own voices as well. Before, they only hoped for opportunities but after being inspired by Hexagon, they are now making their own opportunities. The boy made the silent voices into talking words.
Book cover of "Hexagon"
Right now, Thet Nyein is studying at Monywar University. He still faces some difficulties especially in communication however he never gives up. His passion for reading books has helped him excel in English language and that as a poet and a book lover, he will reach out to the world with the volumes of his words.