We tend to take communication with each other for granted. Not so for deaf children in rural regions of Africa who live in a silent and lonely world, shunned by other villagers.
The Rwenzori Association of Parents of Children with Disabilities' (RAPCD) school for deaf or blind children in Uganda has been unlocking the isolation of deaf children since 2009 and experiencing the great joy this brings to pupils like Jowad. Before he came to RAPCD's primary school, Jowad couldn’t communicate at all with his family because he is deaf. Now, aged 16, he is fluent in sign language and is about to take his exams to progress to St Agnes secondary school.
To create greater integration in families and the wider community, RAPCD now encourages hearing siblings of their deaf pupils to attend the school to learn sign language.
This unlocking has now been experienced by the Heart of Mercy project in Malawi. Due to a generous donation from Billericay Baptist Church, a group of leaders, parents and deaf children have been receiving sign language training. Being able to communicate at long last has been heart-warming. Doors are being opened.