Covid-19 Community Outreach

COVID-19 awareness Session with the Deaf

COVID-19 awareness Session with the Deaf

The challenge: COVID-19 creates barriers for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing as People with disabilities disregarded in COVID-19 information awareness campaigns

There is growing concern that information awareness campaign messages about COVID-19 are on platforms and formats that persons with disabilities have limited access to. While the Corona virus continues to ravage the world, there is growing concern that critical messages about the disease that are disseminated by health authorities, telecom companies, and broadcasters are not reaching Deaf and Hard of Hearing people.

In Nigeria, sections 24 and 25 of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) require public hospitals and the government to ensure that persons with disabilities are given special considerations, including provision of special communication during situations of risk, emergencies (such as Covid-19) and other natural causes.

In the midst of a fast-moving outbreak, officials in developed countries use technology to get health information to the deaf and those with hearing loss, but communication gaps remain. What then can be said of developing countries in Africa? Majority of the Deaf in Rivers State are completely cut off from information about COVID-19 pandemic. In the wake of declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic, the WHO issued guidelines to mitigate the impact of the outbreak on persons with disabilities. It called upon governments to take action to ensure that persons with disabilities are not left behind in the fight against COVID-19.

visiting the Deaf at workshop for COVID-19 safety sensitization

visiting the Deaf at workshop for COVID-19 safety sensitization

We are doing what we can: Our team has been reaching out to various Deaf persons in under-served communities in Rivers State for sensitization and orientation on Corona virus safety guidelines and tips. This orientation takes place both in private homes and at places of work. While it has become necessary to restrict movement, the Deaf are being encouraged to maximize the period for some soft skill acquisition online. This will help minimize street begging.

We don’t know who invented the sign for COVID-19 in American Sign Language. But at D-Ability Initiative, we want Deaf and Hard of Hearing people in Nigeria, starting from Rivers State, to know what it means.  And we want them to know what they need to do to keep their themselves and their families safe during the outbreak. The challenge in the deaf community is with their access to information. People who can hear get incidental knowledge from the television, radio or conversation. Not so for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing people.

 

 

Demonstrating hand washing under running water.

Demonstrating hand washing under running water.

Getting information to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing people is challenging, especially in a period of pandemic when information is not only constantly changing but movements are also restricted.  But all the Deaf and Hard of Hearing people need to know and understand health information surrounding the outbreak. In a crisis where information on hand washing and social distancing is the main line of defense, this outreach takes on a new urgency.

Gratitude: We sincerely appreciate all those who have contributed and those who will contribute to foster this great project. We greatly value you. We love you dearly. Thank you.

To encourage safety consciousness, we gave out nose masks and hand sanitizers to each person. So far, 56 Deaf persons reached.

Campus-Wide Project

 

This project was done in collaboration with the Department of Government and Public Affairs, Gallaudet University, Washington D.C. This project enlightened the entire Gallaudet University campus community and other invited guests on the “Current Status of Deaf Education in Nigeria: Creating A Way Forward.”

In Nigeria, the state of Deaf education has hardly improved over the years, which has resulted in the underdevelopment of the sign languages in use. Some of the problems militating against the proper education of Deaf and Hard of Hearing children in Nigeria and fueling the embers of stigmatization against them include negative attitudes of many Nigerians toward people with special needs, inadequate government support, lack of equipment, shortage of personnel, late identification of deafness, high levels of illiteracy, and poverty.

Much hope for a rapid development of Deaf communities and Deaf education was raised among deaf learners and deaf educators in the mid 70’s when the federal government assumed the responsibility of running the Schools for the Deaf and to provide basic education for the Nigerian Deaf children. More than four decades after this, the situation remains discouraging and the development of deaf communities and sign language(s) in Nigeria remains gloomy. Deaf education in Nigeria is still far below standard in comparison with deaf education in developed nations.

With Gallaudet Univerity President Roberta Cordano

With Gallaudet University President Roberta Cordano

We seized the opportunity to celebrate and appreciate the work of Andrew Foster for the key role he played in bringing Deaf education to Nigeria. This project also highlighted our plans to reshape Deaf Education in Nigeria.

Appreciation: We are give our heartfelt thanks to: The President, Gallaudet University  President Roberta “Bobbi” Cordano; U.S Department of State (YALI); and IREX. We are grateful to Dr. David Penna (Chair, Department of Government and Public Affairs), Dr, Catherine O’Brien who painstakingly worked with our President on the Project. Her support and guidance cannot be quantified. We thank the Gallaudet University Faculty. We also appreciate the works of the hardworking interpreters       .

D-Ability Rural Outreach (DARO)

Nwala's family demonstrate with DARO looks like

The challenge: Understanding is everything. The importance of understanding the peculiar needs of people with hearing disability cannot be overemphasized. Because of linguistic differences many Deaf and Hard of Hearing persons in Nigeria and other parts of Africa experience marginalization within the circle in which they are supposed to find security- their families. Again many families with Deaf and Hard of Hearing children also stigmatize them by presuming that Deafness is synonymous with inability to learn. They mistake disability for incapability. The potentials of many Deaf and Hard of Hearing persons have been cut short by their families who clip their wings out of misguided concerns for their disability and safety.

Our solution: in our effort to reach the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, promote inclusion, unite families with Deaf and Hard of Hearing persons, as well as support them, we launched this on-going project: the D-Ability Rural Outreach (DARO) Project. This Project provides the opportunity for the hearing family members to understand Deafness and other issues that affect their Deaf and Hard of Hearing family members.

Reaching out to rural areas in search of the families of Deaf and Hard of Hearing persons is a heavy task. It has taken a lot of sacrifices so far and will still do.

Our impact: 38 the Deaf and Hard of Hearing people’s families impacted. Viewpoints about the Deaf are changing, starting from the family circle!

Appreciation: We are grateful to the various families of the Deaf we have so far visited.  They have been friendly. We sincerely thank the Nwala’s family for their support. It’s been awesome. We appreciate our volunteers and supporters. This project is worth every effort.  We are encouraged. We want to do more.

D-SignAbility Project

ASL Learning session

Deafness is an aspect of disability. Being Deaf in a developing country comes with many undesirable consequences. Illiteracy is one of such.

We  carried out D-SignAbility Project to enable some Deaf and Hard of Hearing persons in Rivers State, Nigeria, learn to communicate using basic American Sign Language (ASL).

Learners with the Project Lead                       Learners with the Project Lead

Impact: This project helped to reduce the burden of illiteracy among the Deaf and Hard of Hearing as it enhanced free flow of communication among the Deaf community. 62 Deaf and Hard of Hearing persons reached

Mandela Day of Service

Students participate in selfless service.

Mandela Day of Service: Students participate in selfless service.

Mandela Day is a global call to action that celebrates the idea that each individual has the power to transform the world, the ability to make an impact. The day was officially declared by the United Nations in November 2009, with the first UN Mandela Day held on 18 July 2010.

The genesis of this day of service stems from Mandela’s passing on the torch of public service to everyone. “It is in your hands to make of our world a better one for all,” he said. Positive change was the gift left to all of us by Nelson Mandela, but it can only become a living legacy if we take up his challenge.  We are all encouraged to emulate the servant leader we loved by becoming servant leaders ourselves.

What we did to make the world a better place.

A Teacher volunteered to support us.

To mark the Mandela Day of Service for 2018, we held a 2-day event (July 17 and 18) at community secondary school Rumuapara, in Port Harcourt, . This event highlighted and impressed on the mind of the teens the importance of servant leadership, creating social impact, giving back to the society, and the need for teens to be more civically-minded. To help them cultivate the spirit of volunteerism, we did some volunteer works for their school. We also planted the ‘Mandela Tree.’ 142 teens reached.

Over the past decade, Mandela Day has enjoyed global support and solidarity as an opportunity to practise commitment to uplifting the dignity of others and as a day to commemorate the lifetime of service Nelson Mandela gave to South Africa and the world. Mandela Day has moved away from an ad hoc, individualised, reactive approach and moved towards a sustainable, long-term, collaborative methodology to address issues affecting our society. The new Mandela Day strategy will primarily encourage collaborative partnerships in area of active citizenship among others.

There are so many ways to make a difference. We did what we are passionate about. The Mandela Day campaign is a celebration of our collective power to create a global movement for good and make a positive impact on the world. Mandela Day is a global call to action that celebrates the idea that

Students participate in leadership building session

Students participate in leadership building session

everyone has the power to transform the world, the ability to make an impact. Mandela Day represents two things, optimism and hope. There is value in paying it forward. It isn’t about giving but making it easier for someone else who is coming behind us. It’s about asking ourselves what we can do to make things better and thus encouraging a culture of paying it forward.

We sincerely appreciate Mrs. Shulammite Ureh Amannah; Mrs Amasaba Membere; and Mr. Justice Otto. Their support was awesome. We say a big thank you to the Management, staff, and students of Community Secondary School, Rumuapara, Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Their support gave us the courage to do the work.

D-Ability MentorTeens Project

 D-Ability MentorTeens Project session in progress

 

D-Ability  MentorTeens Project  was initiated to help address the many challenges the teenagers are facing. There are many issues affecting teenagers especially in developing countries. These include reproductive health, HIV prevention and care, psychoactive substance abuse, and many others. Reproductive health education is a key strategy for promoting sexual safety among teenagers. The challenge is that there are millions of teens who are uninformed. Many become victims of sexual exploitation and suffer the attendant consequences.

Substance abuse, on the other hand,  refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drug. The rate of psychoactive substance abuse among teenager in and out of high school in Nigeria is alarming. It can only be understood through direct interaction with the teens by trusted mentors. It is now a major Public Health challenge all over the world, particularly in developing countries. Complications of substance abuse by young people are grave including: increased odds of engaging in risky sexual behaviour, personality disorders, sexual violence, criminal tendencies and drug dependence among others.  Many factors have been identified to be responsible for drug abuse among young people, these include: experimental curiosity, peer pressure, poor socio-economic condition at homes and the need for extra energy for daily activities among others. While many studies have been conducted in Nigeria on substance abuse, the menace of this social anomaly has remained unabated particularly among the youths.

The burden of substance abuse is still high among students who had not received any formal teachings on the subject. Awareness campaigns on dangers associated with substance abuse should be intensified in various secondary schools in Nigeria. It is necessary that social media and other channels of communication could be positively engaged in reaching the youths on this subject.

Launched in 2018, this Project has been changing the future of hundreds of teens for better. It has been leading them in the path to greatness in areas such as: reproductive health education; HIV/AIDS prevention and care; psychoactive substance abuse; and many more. It is also designed to equip teens to become mentors to their peers, spreading the word and saving lives.  We have established small hubs known as D-Ability MentorTeens’ Club  in 5 secondary/high schools, reaching over 1050 teens in Rivers State, Nigeria.  We are catching them young!

Project: Business Ideas Activation Plan (BIAP)

Some of the participants

Recently, there has been a lot of focus on the role that entrepreneurship can play towards the development of emerging and developing economies. Entrepreneurship is one of the drivers of sustainable economic growth, mainly because the new businesses that entrepreneurs create have the potential to drive and shape innovation, speed up structural changes in the economy, and introduce new competition – thereby contributing to productivity.

If properly harnessed, Africa’s youth bulge has the potential to translate into a dividend for the continent through the creation of enterprises that not only contribute towards economic growth, but also create jobs for their fellow youth. Africa’s youth bulge is an opportunity, but only if it is leveraged for all it has to offer. Instead of expecting youth to be recipients of the results of economic growth, Africa’s youth need to be in the driving seat, initiating and creating that growth through entrepreneurship.

Despite the presence of a number of entrepreneurship hubs, many African countries do not have thriving support ecosystems that facilitate youth entrepreneurship. More intense efforts are required to bridge this gap, making existing support services from ‘entrepreneurship hubs’ and other service providers accessible to entrepreneurs in countries with less developed support ecosystems.

While a significant number of resources exist to support youth entrepreneurship in Africa, there are still considerable gaps, with many youth lacking the support they need to either create or grow a business. There is no dedicated one stop solution that caters to the needs of entrepreneurs across the continent, providing support to the entire spectrum of entrepreneurship sectors and stages of growth.

Some of the Project facilitators

Some of the Project facilitators

 

November 12, 2018 remains a day to remember. In collaboration with Dekiruyo Africa, we impacted 44 youth with in-depth presentations on business ideas, activation plans and how to leverage information and communication technology and social media for business growth, expansion, and international reach.  Participants were also exposed to many leadership opportunities they could take advantage of as social change agents.

We are grateful to all our amazing facilitators who generously shared the result of their many years of hard  work and expertise with the participants. It was awesome collaborating with Dekiruyo Africa.  We keep building capacity, enhancing growth, and encouraging social impact.