Carpentry in new workshop, Vocational Training Centre for the Deaf (VTCD), Tanzania

Deaf students reap rewards of new workshop

Students at the Vocational Training Centre for the Deaf (VTCD) in Tanzania are relishing the opportunity to develop their practical skills in newly furnished surroundings.

The purpose-built workshop has provided students with rooms for carpentry and tailoring, blackboards for technical illustration and increased storage capacity, dramatically improving their learning environment.

Students working outside prior to workshop opening

Students working outside previously

Life before the workshop was dependent on favourable weather, with woodwork lessons held under Baobab trees often interrupted by heavy rainfall and intense heat. Work could sometimes be postponed for up to a week during the rainy season. In tailoring classes, three sewing machines were shared amid cramped conditions. There are now 14 manual machines available to the students.

Students win first contract

The new workshop space has encouraged students to spend more time learning and practising their vocational skills, with staff reporting a significant improvement in their performance. The success of the workshop was evident for all to see when deaf students were awarded a desk-making tender by Rotary International. On 17 January, 26 desks, one chair and a table were proudly delivered to a primary school in the area. This experience provided students at the VTCD with a priceless confidence boost. Identifying further furniture making contracts will enable students to hone their skills while raising much needed revenue for the VTCD.

“Before, we used to work and conduct practical sessions under the tree. The place was tiresome, hot, windy and dusty; therefore sessions were very hard and it was difficult to focus. Sometimes during rainy seasons sessions were cancelled so we had to have theory sessions in the class.” – comment from a carpentry student at the VTCD.

Competence with a needle and thread has reached a level where students are now asking for a curriculum expansion to include fashion design – potentially a significant feather in the caps of students seeking independent livelihoods after graduating.

Tailoring lesson in new workshop facilities

Tailoring lesson in new workshop facilities

“Now we have a comfortable place to work, the room is full of space and we can make a lot of things because we have a lot of sewing machines, we make uniforms for primary school students and we can make and repair our own clothes.” – comment from a tailoring student at the VTCD.

Without the generosity of donors and supporters this could not have been possible. The future for the workshop is bright. Signal will continue supporting the centre to enable its development into a truly independent and productive training resource for Tanzania’s deaf population. With several exciting initiatives in the pipeline, make sure to check our website for news!

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