Story by: Taurai Emmanuel Maforo, Nyadire Mission, Mutoko.
“Deaf people can do anything that hearing people can do…except hear.”
Singing praises with no words but through the demonstration of gestures they have proved that “Disability is not inability” is not a cliché for the HI (Hearing Impaired) choir at Nyadire CPS(Central Primary School) but a reality.
Mr. Ernest Mwandere a hard of hearing instructor from the Zimbabwe National Association for the Deaf, who has the same condition said “I am happy to ‘hear’ them sing and I pray we will continue to see them in future…
This is a blessing.” Rev. Allan Gurupira the Deputy Administrative Assistant to the Bishop and ZWAC CM Director shared the same view. He further called on family and society to see value in the hard-hearing children. “They have a bright future before them…if we support them.” Rev. Gurupira said.
The future however seems bleak as the Hearing Impaired program is only at Primary School and not yet implemented in the High school curriculum.
The Hearing Impaired (HI) unit that has operated since 1994 came as a response by the United Methodist Church to the plight of the “hard of hearing” children in the Nyadire community. The department is manned by four specialized teachers.
Many children either come from disadvantaged families or the families do not see the necessity for educating a deaf child.
Killian Gumunyu (14), Olivia Kusemwa (13), and Jacqueline Mapfumo (13) dream of one day becoming a computer programmer, businesswoman and sign language teacher respectively. Their dreams may soon be shuttered if they do not proceed to secondary school. These are among the 30 learners with the hearing impairment. Only 10 of these are girls indicating that parents are hiding their girl children from school.
Mr. Tendai Mushapaidze the Nyadire CPS head and the Schools Chaplin Rev. Nyaradzai Matonga bemoaned the unforeseen future of these brilliant children. They lamented the failure by the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture to have a separate marking scheme for grade 7 examinations. As a result the present marking scheme creates an uneven playing field for these talented kids.
Nyadire CPS remains challenged due to lack of an audiological laboratory to periodically test the hearing capacity of these children. In addition to that only one out of the 30 children has a hearing aid.
Mr. Peaceway Zvomunyika a sign-language anchor on ZTV(Zimbabwe Television) news and Mr. Mwandere a hard of hearing instructor the instructed a group of 33 adult participants and 10 school children attending a Sign Language Workshop organised by Mrs. Tendai Rebecca Gurupira the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area Women’s desk coordinator.
Mrs. Grace Musuka, a Regional Missionary with United Methodist Women for Central Africa participated in the workshop and described the event as a noble one that deserve more funding.
Participants were taken through the paces – from number system, alphabet, common terms used in church, hospital, classrooms and to wild and domestic animals. The training group was at pains to grasp the number nine which has the index finger folded but were excited when it came to the simple signs, such as A – closed hand.
After the workshop, the HI Department was handed over with a fowl run to keep chicken layers and therefore start an egg project. The project has so received funding from United Methodist Women to the tune of US$5 000.
The one-day workshop was organised for the units at Nyadire which incorporate; Nyadire CPS, High School, Farm, Home of Hope Ophanage, and Teachers’ College. The workshop is earmarked at raising awareness on the need to interact positively with the children. The greater part of the workshop centred on imparting basic communication skills in sign language.