Ms. Beroz Vacha (1927 - 2014)
The deafblindness support world has lost another pioneer with the passing of Ms. Beroz Vacha in Mumbai India on April 24, 2014 after a period of ill health. Beroz has been a remarkable and brave woman leaving a legacy of passion and commitment in the field of deafness and deafblindness.
Beroz was initially an educator of the deaf, and at the start of her career in 1965 at the Education, Audiology and Research Centre in Mumbai came across a young deaf girl who had become blind. Beroz shared her first contact with a deafblind person: “Being with this girl who was so intelligent and trapped by this severest of handicaps and yet undaunted in spirit – this attitude changed the entire course of my life. I began to look into a deaf child with additional handicaps which retarded his learning progress but was
mis-labeled as mentally retarded- more so a deaf child with vision problems leading to blindness”.
Beroz's determination brought her scholarships to study, train and visit various institutes from 1970 onwards in the UK, USA, the Netherlands and Scandinavian countries, to study educational techniques for deafblind children. In 1977 she founded the Helen Keller Institute for the Deaf and Deafblind in Mumbai to support two deafblind students. Beroz played a pivotal role in establishment of Sense International India by advising Rodney Clarke (the then CEO of Sense) and Richard Hawkes, then Director of Sense International.
There is no doubt that Beroz dedicated her whole life in the service of deafblindness and transformed many lives including Shyama Mehta, Zamir Dhale, Pradip, Aney Mathew, Akhtar, Vandana, Shishna and many others. In addition, she has touched the lives of many professionals in the deafblind sector globally having served in various consulting and administrative capacities inside and outside of India. She served as one of the early members of the Executive Committee of IAEDB, the original name of DbI.
A memorial page has been established to learn more of the life of Beroz Vasha.
Mr. JOSEPH M. MORRISSEY
Joe’s greatest legacy is in the value and responsibility that he felt for every child and every family. He leaves his own loving family in the United States and his friends and colleagues throughout the world.
The deafblind community in East Africa and throughout the world, mourn the loss of Joseph Morrissey (aka Morris) who passed away on January 16, 2014. Joe was a kind and spiritual man. Everyone who had the good fortune to meet him felt his warmth and sincere commitment to his work. Wherever he lived he took pride in his home and his gardens. Although he lived most of his adult life in Africa, he always kept his strong ties to his family in the United States.
Joe fell in love with East Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer in the early 1970s where he was posted for three years at Ngora School for the Deaf in a very remote part of Uganda. He came back for one year to study for his Master’s Degree in in Deaf Education at Columbia University.
Once his studies were through, Joe returned to Africa with good faith that he would find work to do; however, under the regime of Idi Amin, Americans were not allowed to return to Uganda. Instead, Joe, through the Kenyan government, was posted at Kerugoya School for the Deaf where he became known as Mr. Deaf – a name that stayed with him through the years.
In 1983 Joe was fortunate to find employment as a CBM (Christian Blind Mission) co-worker for whom he worked until his retirement in 2012. His personal mission was very compatible with CBM’s mission, so it was a match made in heaven. Through his work at CBM he was able to return to Ngora School for the Deaf, then on to work in Kenya. Throughout his years with CBM Joe supported many schools through their growth and pursuit of quality education and vocational services.
In Joe’s role as the CBM consultant for the Deaf and deafblind, his mission was wider. In this job he made sure that every child he came to know could access much needed medical services. If the family of a child did not have the means or capacity to bring a child for surgery or other treatment, Joe would make all of the arrangement; bring the child for treatment and often bring them to his home until he or she was healthy enough to return to school. In his last years, he worked as a consultant for Perkins International as a central figure in East Africa.
Joe was welcomed on any team when deafblindness was the focus. Every professional who knew him valued his knowledge of each program and what they could offer, and what type of support was most important. Never did he seek power or attention for himself and always had the most practical guidance to share. He would always make time for fun and was happy to be singing and dancing to the “oldies.”