We were delighted to welcome Paul, head of our partner Signhealth Uganda, to the UK in September. Paul inspired us with updates on our joint work to help deaf children and young people in central and northern Uganda exercise their rights to education and healthcare. In turn, he took away ideas for future work from his experiences in the UK.
Paul witnessed fearful attitudes towards both disability and HIV when he was growing up and during his training in social work. One of his sisters was a polio victim and a school friend had a damaged limb. It was while he was working with the Uganda Society for Disabled Children that he discovered a particular need for support for deaf children who are also confronted with not knowing how to communicate.
Part of Signal’s work with Signhealth Uganda is to raise awareness among teachers and health workers, so that they can offer a friendly service to deaf children and young people. Health workers create materials about combating HIV, for example, but this information often does not reach deaf people because it is largely communicated orally, including through the radio. So our project engages deaf volunteers to help get health messages out into the community.
During his stay, Paul was able to meet Signal’s UK Outreach Worker Joanne (pictured in headline photo), who said:
“I explained my role and Paul explained his. We shared ideas and we can both empathise with the challenges the deaf community faces, including feelings of isolation. It’s a real eye-opener to hear how tough his job is. It’s great that he and the team are there to help the deaf community and we’re lucky to have Paul. He is ambitious and is aiming to make the world better for deaf children.”
Paul also paid a learning visit to Derwen College in Oswestry. He saw how this inclusive college provides its students, who have a range of learning and other disabilities, with vocational training, work experience and the skills to lead independent lives. Paul has taken away ideas, notably screen printing to label bags and T-shirts, for confidence building and income generating activities for young deaf people in Uganda.