A Turn to Learn – educate a deaf child in Zimbabwe

The world is more connected than ever.  Children all over the world are out of school due to the COVID 19 pandemic and some are enjoying being at home.  Others are missing their friends and school.  Imagine if you were a deaf child out of school and had no one who could communicate with you beyond a few very basic signs! The Deaf complain that life during lockdown is so lonely it’s like being in solitary confinement in a prison.

Annie and her classmates have been out of school for 10 weeks. Due to the lockdown, their parents have not been able to trade and there is no help from the government in Zimbabwe. 90% people in Zimbabwe are unemployed and become informal traders. They survive through small income generating activities. Many deaf children have not been able to communicate with their families during this time.  Many deaf children in Manicaland Province live so far away from the school they are forced to board –an expense which most families cannot afford.  Children in Zimbabwe must pay school fees, buy uniforms, textbooks, stationery and sometimes pay something to the teacher.  Imagine the isolation they are feeling now and the challenge of convincing their parents to send them back to school once they open!

Education for deaf children opens opportunity for life. Families start to understand the capabilities of their deaf child. Parents develop acceptance, gain financial stability through better business practise and then their confidence in parenting grows. Nzeve parents, deaf staff and volunteers work together to support families who are new to the deaf experience; keeping the impact cycle going.

Many parents find it hard to understand how important it is to send deaf children to school. But Annie’s mother is standing up for Annie.

Will you join her in helping deaf children get back to school?

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A turn to learn – Nzeve Deaf Centre project on Global Giving.




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.



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.

IMG_1955 (2)     IMG_1907

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.




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!



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

Opening stone


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!


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,

Awareness through Business meeting

Today was our Annual Business meeting – known as the Annual General meeting. Various legal issues have to be taken care of but we also used it as an opportunity to advertise our services and to learn from the Deaf community.

One legal requirement is that we should advertise the meeting in the local paper.  I spoke to one man I did not recognise and discovered he had come – having read the advert, because his young son is deaf.  He wanted to know if he could get help and he came to understand the importance of early communication and to see that he must not wait any longer. Hopefully his little 3 year old will come on Monday and we will have our AGM baby attending preschool!

We had a visitor from USA who gave a short talk.  Dr Kirk Van Gilder is deaf.  He is Associate Professor at Gallaudet University – a liberal arts university for the Deaf in Washington DC. He addressed us in American sign language which was interpreted to English by Dr Jason Heys (also from USA), and into Zimbabwe Sign language by Tatenda Mashayahanya, (Sign Language interpreter and Monitoring and Evaluation officer at Nzeve.) Dr kirk introduced the idea of “Deaf Gain”, as opposed to “Hearing Loss”.  He helped visitors, deaf youth, Nzeve staff and parents of deaf children at the meeting to think and be encouraged by the ways our lives have been enriched by being involved with deaf people.

The Department that Counts!




Our partnership with World Education Inc sadly came to an end with the close of the Vana Batwana project in October this year.  However, we are proud of our Administration and Finance department for being awarded the prize for the best financial management in the project.  This was quite an achievement for us since the project was funded by USAID who have very high standards!

Well done June, Noah and Mr Koza for all your hard work over the last 5 years with VB! Also to our interns – Tafadzwa, Charity and Losyleen – drivers, receptionist and gardeners.