COVID 19 PANDEMIC – ZIMBABWE LOCKDOWN

                       WHAT IS IT LIKE BEING DEAF IN ZIMBABWE’S LOCK DOWN?

Just before the lock down in Zimbabwe we had 15 young women and teenage girls at the centre for a health and personal development project.  We discussed COVID 19 and how to stay safe from it.  We had hand washing stations in key positions over the centre and we practised social distancing. We are aware that many deaf people in Zimbabwe have not had information about the virus, so we tasked staff and participants to explain to other deaf people. Our vocational training project members were all informed about the virus and practised good hygiene whilst at the centre. When the project was closed on Friday March 27th they were encouraged to go home and stay at home.

A small Whats app group is helping those with smart phones to receive videos and pictures, but most of the Deaf do not have smart phones.

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But what is it like for the Deaf community in a lock down? We asked people in the deaf community in Manicaland to tell their stories- what is the lock down like for you?

Many deaf people are afraid. They are learning bits and pieces about the virus, but they are not getting accurate information.  One lady reported she is living in fear and doesn’t want to touch anything.  The Deaf who have seen the pictures on the TV news are very afraid. They see people dying all over the world. However, there are no closed captions or sign language interpretation on local TV, so they do not always get the full story.

  • Some, having heard the virus started in China, are convinced it is only caught by eating cats or dogs like the Chinese do, so they think they are safe.
  • One young deaf man does not believe in the virus but thinks its just a way to keep people off the streets. He has not seen anyone sick with the virus, so he does not believe it exists.
  • People in town think it must be better in rural areas because there is more food there, like birds, mice, wild fruits and mushrooms which can be harvested for free.
  • Many deaf people in town work as vendors in the streets.  “In town food is very difficult to buy because it is expensive, and we cannot go out to work.”
  • Others have seen there is no awareness in rural areas – some deaf people are trying to spread the message, but it is too expensive for them to send SMS.
  • One man told a story of the Deaf being hit by police, because they did not know about lock down and did not respond when the police called them.
  • Most people replied the lock down was boring – one young man said it was like being in jail.
  • “Deaf girls don’t like staying at home because it’s boring and they don’t have people they can communicate with at home. But deaf girls should not go out. They should know about the lock down and stay at home. It’s dangerous if they go out, walking and talking with other friends and enjoying sign language together.  I know that’s very dangerous because of the virus. We must be careful and stay safe.”

Some of the deaf girls at the activity before the lockdown are spreading information and responded to our question-

“My little brother was playing outside.  I sat with him and explained to him about the dangerous virus.  He refused to understand because he wanted to play. I messaged my father and he talked to my brother.  He told him – no more walking up and down the street. Stay inside- it is dangerous to be outside because of the virus.”

Dennias Mudzingwa, Secretary for Disabilities and special needs in MDC has written appealing to people to remember the Deaf community in these times.  He suggests that in order to include the Deaf community in the fight against COVID 19, we must:

  • Make sure information about COVID 19 is available in sign language and that information shared on TV should have sign language interpretation.
  • Hospitals and other public institutions need people who can sign, so deaf people can get timely services.
  • The public must know the need for the deaf community to get information, so they can help.
  • The Deaf should be included in any assistance programmes, since their sources of income have been lost.

Nzeve will continue to work to reach the Deaf Community in different ways during the lock down. It will not be easy – if you have ideas please get in touch!

We’re all in this together – including the Deaf Community!

Wake Up Shepherds!

Nzeve Preschool held the Christmas Nativity play and graduation on 4th December 2019.

We were entertained by a lively group of 5 and 6 year olds deaf children acting out the nativity.  “Mary???? Pregnant????? No no no !” signed Joseph. Then after some thought he took flowers to Mary and asked her to marry him, and off to Bethlehem town.

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Children’s nativity plays are always fun – and loved by parents and grand parents.  This one was no exception!  Well done children and the Families Department team!

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Six children graduated and will be starting formal education next year in Resource Units for the Deaf  in local schools.  They will be taught in Zimbabwe sign language and written English.  Deaf children have a challenge in getting enough information and knowledge.  When only one or two people at home know any sign language they miss out on lots of information, some of which could be life saving.

Nzeve Deaf Centre aims to identify children when they are young and help them to get good communication skills.  We do this in partnership with their families.  Every child needs to communicate with someone at home – so mothers often give up their morning to stay at preschool with their deaf child so they can learn together.

Graduation is an achievement not only for the children, but for the mothers as well.

Congratulations!  Makorokoto!

Yolanda Chirara, Anotida Jori, Pelagia Mundoko, Maria Marange, Prince Chibisa and Tawananyasha Chabaya.  We will miss you all but trust you will enjoy your new schools. Come and visit soon!

 

Cyclone Idai

Thank you so much to our supporters who have sent funds to help with the aftermath of Cyclone Idai in Chimanimani and Chipinge Districts. The destruction is only now becoming clear – some areas are still not accessible by road.  You can see how the rain and the landslides destroyed roads and bridges. The people of Zimbabwe also helped in incredible ways – lots of donations of food, clothes and medicine, from all sectors of society.  People are getting food donations but now they need shelter and psychosocial support. We are hearing stories of children who see the clouds coming and start to get very anxious and run to their caregivers, needing to feel safe.

Deaf people in remote rural areas often have limited communication with their families.  They also need information so they can understand what happened and where they can get help. We are hoping to work with CBM and Jairos Jiri Association to help the Deaf community in the affected areas.

This is not a problem that is going to be solved by food handouts alone – the affected families lost their homes, harvest for the next year and livestock.  We are grateful to be working with CBM who have had a lot of experience in humanitarian emergency relief and recovery situations.

THANK YOU FOR THE LOVE

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Happy Valentine’s Day

because of your support and love, last year in 2018 we were able to-

  • support 341 deaf children through education, health and livelihood projects.
  • involve 87 deaf youth  in clubs and 88 deaf adolescent girls and young women  in the DREAMS project
  • include 601 people in Internal Savings and Lending groups many of whom are caregivers for people with disabilities
  • reach 290 child care workers for deaf awareness training
  • train other organisations for disability inclusion
  • host over 500 people at the annual dinner dance in centre of town
  • run 3 sign language certificate courses in collaboration with Great Zimbabwe University
  • acquire a new vehicle for outreach (thanks to MIVA) and build a training block (Thanks to Japanese Embassy)

 

Thank you for the love you showed – Happy Valentines Day!

Harvest

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This picture looks like it’s in the rural ares – but in fact it is at Nzeve Centre, Old Location Sakubva! We are located right at the edge of the location, with the view of the mountains, and Christmas Pass. Our field at the back of the centre, is farmed by the deaf youth of Sanganai Project. On arrival back at the project, after a Christmas break, there was a lot of work to do.  The rains have been quite good this year, and in addition to that we have a drip kit and a borehole in the garden, provided by OakZim Foundation.  This allows us to irrigate the crops. The youth have harvested enough food to last them several months, and the vegetables are doing well.  The youth have grown butternut squash for the children to enjoy as well this year.

Our New Building

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We had a wonderful occasion in November when the new building, funded by the Embassy of Japan in Zimbabwe, was opened.  We are very grateful to the Japanese for this very generous gift.  It will enable us to increase our training without having to disturb the children and the youth programmes.

We have already had training meetings and organizational training in the room.  What a difference it makes to have a spacious area with good sound and light.  The youth are busy at the moment making pelmets and curtains to help the acoustics in the training room.  Shelves are going up in the kitchen and the storeroom areas.

We are looking forward to many reasons to use the big room.  Thank you Japan. We will not forget what you have done – and the stone on the front of the building declares our friendship and cooperation with you.

 

Another year!

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We’re back in preschool.  2019 has started and our classes started too.

It’s the hot season and some days are very hot.  It has also rained quite well and we had a few cool days last week – hence the beanies and track suits in this picture!

Five children graduated last year to go to Grade 1.  Their mothers have come to Nzeve for the parents meeting and we are hearing stories of how they have settled in.  One young boy was not impressed with Grade 1 at first – he insisted that he wanted to go back to Mai Nyazungu,- his teacher at Nzeve – but after a few days he settled in and  is now enjoying his time at school.

We wish all the children a good year and trust they will make wonderful memories of their time at Nzeve,