HomeLocal NewsLending an ear to the hearing-impaired

Lending an ear to the hearing-impaired

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A group of concerned mothers got together to provide voluntary services to the community and decided to exercise this enormous task with a mixture of love and hope by giving hearing-impaired children the opportunity to attend crche like any other child.

The women formed the Makanakashe Deaf Childrens Organisation (MDCO) in 2010.

We believe there is value in every life and this organisation plays a crucial role in improving career prospects of the hearing-impaired children as well as securing their future, said the founder Kumbirayi Mahachi-Mangezi.

Mahachi-Mangezi is a teacher by profession and she said her mother a voluntary worker herself was her biggest inspiration who taught her to give to the community and to love other people.

Our aim is to have independent hearing-impaired children who will be able to fend for themselves and become active members of society rather than living in isolation and neglect, she said.

Apart from running a crche in Unit K Chitungwiza that currently caters for children between three and eight years of age, the women also conduct workshops in the community once every fortnight so that people learn and are able to interact with the children.

Sign language is not yet official in Zimbabwe and is not taken as one of the official languages such as Shona and Ndebele.

Sign language at home is totally different from the one in schools, so we try to educate parents as well so that it becomes easy for them to communicate with the kids, said Roselyn Chiparaushe, one of the teachers at MDCO.

Setting up this organisation wasnt easy, for funds to cater for all requirements were almost non-existent. They did not have facilities.

They approached Chitungwiza Town Council and were given a room at St Theresa Pre-school where they started conducting classes once a week, but realised the children easily forgot what they learnt, then they decided to teach the whole week.

Convincing parents to bring their children was initially difficult and these voluntary members had to visit schools, homes, markets and shops, urging all parents with hearing-impaired children to bring them to the organisation.

Initially they had sixteen children, but now there are more than twenty. Parents have realised their children benefit a lot from the organisation.

Chiparaushe said the kids required a lot of books, toys, puzzles, crayons and other paraphernalia as learning aids.

Mahachi-Mangeza said it was necessary for them to visit teachers in schools with resource units so as to create a partnership with them. They intend to establish requirements for the children as they go for Grade 1.

MDCO has one hearing-impaired teacher, Charlene Taderera, affectionately known as Auntie Charlene at the centre, a member of the voluntary group and an important figure who serves as a role model for the kids.

Although the organisation has received assistance from other institutions such as International Book Aid, Mescop, Mashambanzou and other well-wishers, they still have serious challenges related to funding.

Mahachi-Mangezi said in future, they would want to expand and cater for every child in need of their support, but to do that they would require much bigger premises.

We want our work to grow. We need to have our own space and that way the children wont get easily distracted, she said.

Some of the children live far away from the centre and require transport, but many parents cannot afford bus fare daily. MDCO hasnt got transport as yet.

Other children have got hearing-impairment problems coupled with other health problems and they require a lot of attention and health support in terms of medicine, pampers and lotions, among other things.

Some members of the community commented on the work that is being done by these women.

The women are not paid for their work, but this has not affected their dedication.

What these women are doing for our community is incredible. We now all have the responsibility to ensure that these children get enough support and are given the same opportunity as all the other children in our community, said one member of the Chitungwiza community who asked for anonymity.
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