Malawi Stories – most significant change
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Story 1 – Macbane Gondwe
My name is Macbane Gondwe and I am a parent to a twelve-year-old girl who has had hearing problems since birth. I have always known that her hearing was low but had never thought that something could be done about it. I did not even know how best to communicate with her and to be honest I shouted at her several times. I would forget that she had this problem and thought she was being naughty.
In 2014, one community leader told me that CCAP were picking children and supporting them if they found them with hearing problems. At first I did not take it seriously until my neighbour told me that their child had been included in the project. I decided to take my child for assessment and they told us that she needed to be trained alongside with us parents. I was happy to know that there were many other parents in the same boat as I am. Now we could form a support group and help each other through the problems we have had for a very long time. My child is now in P6 and she has greatly improved. The teacher now asks her to sit in front and she says she can follow all that the teacher is saying in class.
So if I have to point out one most significant change, it is not easy to say. But if I point one then the most significant change was that I developed new perceptions about what my child can do. I now have hope and I believe that she can continue with school until she completes her education.
The main supporting factors to the change is the knowledge that we acquired. We are now more and more conscious about the need to work together as parents and support our children. I thank whoever came up with this idea.
The only challenge that I still face is that the projects that we have initiated with the parent support group do not help raise sufficient money for school related costs. I wish we could do more so that we support them well.
Story 2 – Sarah Banda
My name is Sarah Banda and I live in Luviri zone. I got to know about the project by the Synod of Livingstonia through the head teacher who was aware that my son had severe hearing problems. I was invited to a training, which was very interesting as I got to understand my child’s problems for the past few years. All along I was shy to talk about my son’s hearing problems. Through the training, I learnt that it is possible to communicate well with your children. It was good to learn that having a disability does not mean that a child should be stigmatised. Rather, I appreciate that I could eventually speak out and not feel ashamed about my child.
Before this project, my child was so shy and could not even tell me how he was feeling. Now that he is going to school, he has become more free and I see he is quite happy. He tells me what they learn and now he plays out with friends.
The most significant change is that most of us parents now know it is our responsibility to send our children to school and make them feel accepted, regardless of their disability status. In my family, we are all very happy that our child is now active and playing with others.
Being a member of a parent support group has been a good thing. We have been learning about saving money and at least we have been able to support our children. The skills we learnt are useful for us. Whatever little resources that we manage to raise, we spend on buying uniforms for children, as well as books and other stationery.