Personal stories: photo of typically large class in Northern Malawi

Malawi: behind the numbers, the personal stories …

Signal works with local partners in Malawi to identify deaf and hearing impaired children and support them to access primary education. We work with the children, their families, carers, respected community leaders and teachers to ensure this education is relevant to the children’s special needs. Our programmes also challenge negative attitudes towards disability.

Personal stories: photo of CCAP special needs education team

We are delighted to reveal that together with our local partners, the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) in Malawi, we have directly reached over 22,000 people, giving them a helping hand to change their lives! This is thanks to the programmes’ two largest donors, Comic Relief and in partnership with Sense Scotland the Scottish Government, and gifts from trusts and individuals.

Behind these striking numbers, though, what has changed for the deaf children and the people around them? Here are just a few of the personal stories from those involved…

Milika* is a 10-year-old girl who has a moderate hearing impairment. She told us: “Before the training, I wasn’t able to interact with friends. I wasn’t doing well in class. I was very shy and couldn’t even respond to my teacher when asked a question. Now I am happy at school, because I play well with my friends and my teacher loves me too.”

Funny* is 14 years old and told us: “Now I like school so much. In class I like mathematics, English and Chichewa.” When she finishes school, Funny wants to be a nurse, because, in her own words: “I would like to help my parents and relatives.”

Personal stories: photo of teachers' workshop in Northern MalawiMclean is a teacher who attended a training session and used his new skills to help one 9-year-old deaf child in his typically large class.

He wrote: “I have gained knowledge and skills so that I am able to assist the child in my class. I put her in the front line in order for her to lip read me. Through provision of individual work and class assessment, her performance has greatly improved from average to excellent, such that she got position 2 in my class of 145 learners.”

The enthusiasm to support their children’s education has led community members in the District of Mzimba North to collectively establish 16 village-based Reading Centres. This has accelerated the young learners’ performance.

Sessions in the Reading Centres are conducted twice a week and cover different academic and social lessons, including games in the afternoons after formal school. Currently, over 400 children with different special needs are benefiting and the results are impressive.

Personal stories: photo of Giani in classMeet Giani*. He was first identified as hearing impaired in 2010. Following his training, he described how he “developed self-esteem to lobby for equal treatment from individuals who think hearing impaired learners cannot pass in class,” when he attended his local Reading Centre.

He also said that he “developed leadership skills and confidence to answer questions and ask questions for clarity in class.” He has since passed his Primary Leaving Certificate and was one of the very few children to be selected for a place at secondary school.

Giani is aiming high and proudly told us, “I am university product come 2018!”

*Names changed to protect children’s identities.

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