By Vicki Brown*
The 27 deaf or hearing impaired students at the Nyadire Primary School in Zimbabwe have found more than an education at The United Methodist Church mission near Mutoko. The children and their parents have found hope.
“Now I can do what other kids can do. I thank God!” said Maclean Masimo, one of the students. Her grandmother said the program has been life-changing for Maclean.
“I did not know how to handle my child as I did not where to go with her. Coming to Nyadire and having my child accepted is a dream come true!” Scholarstic Samakande said.
The Rev. Forbes Matonga, pastor-in-charge at the Nyadire Mission and a member of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s Board of Directors, said the program was started in 1994 when United Methodist Church leaders at Nyadire realized the community had many hearing impaired children, but there was no school within a reasonable distance. In fact, Matonga said there are only two other primary schools in Zimbabwe that teach deaf or hearing impaired students—one in Masvingo and one in Harare.
Matonga said many needs still need to be addressed.
“They are not fully accepted. There is still stigmatization of these children, who are at times hidden from the public and as a result come to school when they are too old. We need strong awareness campaigns in our communities,” he said.
The school has four specialized teachers for the hearing impaired program. The children study on their own for maximum attention by specialized teachers, but mix with all other children at the school at meal time and during chapel services. They also take part in extracurricular activities and some have won medals, Matonga said.
He said there are no high schools in Zimbabwe for deaf or hearing impaired students and that the special training available is quite expensive.
“It is our dream as an institution to start a vocational school right here at Nyadire to give these children life-changing skills that would become their means of livelihoods,” Matonga said.
The primary school has many needs—most pressing, a lab that could be used to assess children regularly on a case-by-case basis. “This will enable us to know the needs of each child with precision,” Matonga said.
The school also needs one or more teachers trained to do the assessments, which would be cheaper for the institution than sending the children away for assessments or bringing experts to the school.
Hearing aids are another great need. “Out of 27 children only one has a hearing aid bought by a parent,” Matonga said.
Help with school fees would be a great boon, too, he said. “Most of our children come from poor families, and they cannot afford the $400 (U.S.) needed every term for boarding fees and tuition. Foster parents who can sponsor these children are welcome indeed,” Matonga said.
Matonga would also like to get sign language training for hospital staff and pastors at the mission, as well as parents of the children.
The program for the 27 deaf or hearing impaired students is just one small piece of the work being done at the mission. In addition to the primary school, the mission has a high school, a teacher’s college, a hospital, a church and the Home of Hope, a children’s home for orphans and vulnerable children. A Western PA group, The Nyadire Connection, has partnered with the Nyadire Mission since 2006.
The primary school is one of the top rated in the district with a passage rate of 91 percent in 2013, but the school has a serious shortage of housing for teachers.
The high school was ranked 28th nationally in 2013, according to I.T. Mudiwa, head of the school. Improvements the school would like to complete include installing solar panels for hot water.
Neither the mission nor the school has an Advance Special number which allows donations through the General Board of Global Ministries, but the program can be supported with direct donations.
To donate to the program or the mission, or to get more information, contact:
The Rev. Forbes Matonga, pastor-in-charge, Nyadire Mission, Mutoko, Zimbabwe; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; cell phone: +263 774087 573.
Learn more about The Nyadire Connection and donate online or by mail to its programs at Nyadire.org.
*Vicki Brown is with the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry