"If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children."

~Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday, May 23, 2010

New Sign Language Programs

Outside the capital, Monrovia, education in Liberia can be very limited. For persons who are deaf, education outside the city is non-existent. Deafness in Liberia is most commonly caused by natural or preventable causes-diseases or from the war. Families do not understand what is wrong with their child, thinking it is something that they must burden with alone. They do not have truthful answers, a support group, or a way to fully communicate with their child.

These boys from a rural village were all identified as having hearing problems (there were possibly more, including girls, but these children were there at the moment). Though they attended the local village school (more than 60 students with one teacher with 11th grade education), they did not have a language to learn with or to communicate.

There are children and families like these all around Liberia. The Hope for the Deaf director and staff have always had the goal to start programs in the rural villages, like the one in Monrovia. They're hope is to begin a sign language tutorial program, then expand to educational services. They have identified two villages, Kakata and Gbarnga, where there is parent interest to start a sign language program for their children.

Even without consistent financial funds to support the program, the Hope staff are dedicated to bringing education to the Deaf in rural Liberia. They understand the importance of having a language, and are passionate about giving a voice to Deaf Liberians. I am proud of the staff of Hope and so glad to be a part of an organization that is helping to rebuild their country in a positive way, one student at a time.

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