Signal Charity in Malawi

Karen’s Malawi blog: the story of a community

Signal’s International Programmes Manager, Karen Goodman-Jones, tells a story of “spirit and generosity”…

Two magic moments

An inspiring visit to a community which has thoroughly adopted and expanded the original vision of our special educational needs programme in northern Malawi provided me with not one, but two magic moments, long to be remembered!

Photo of school children in a community in Malawi

Andy entertaining the pupils

Visiting Kafukule, an hour and a half’s drive on rough roads from the city of Mzuzu, I had no expectations, except that I was looking forward to finally seeing a place I had read and reported on for over three years to our two main donors, the Scottish Government and Comic Relief. Visiting with Andy Kerr, Chief Executive of Sense Scotland, Signal’s long-time partners on the programme, I think it is fair to say that we were both in fact overwhelmed by the entire community and how its members are working together to enable deaf children to receive an education, in a country where education for all is a right, but often not a reality.

I will never forget the warm welcome from the community leaders, parents, teachers, local Ministry of Education officials and, of course, the hundreds of children whose playtime we inadvertently interrupted, although they certainly weren’t complaining! At a meeting with representatives from each group, the honesty, openness, willingness to learn and change and their sheer generosity of spirit was an eye-opener.

From admitting that at first they didn’t even “like” deaf children or think they had a place in a “normal” school, the community has now taken in and cares for eight deaf children from neighbouring areas. This is to allow these children to take advantage of the specialist teacher of the deaf now working at a resource centre the community set up and supports. The centre provides additional teaching in small groups or individually. This ensures that deaf children can learn and excel academically within mainstream primary schools, in spite of the schools’ large class sizes and limited resources.

Photo of village elder and chief on community land in Malawi

Village elder and chief on the donated land

If yet more commitment were needed, a gift of land and an offer to make bricks and construct a dormitory and additional classroom in order to accommodate even more deaf children or those with other special needs has already been promised. Now it is just a question of waiting for the skilled builders and technicians to be found to assist the community in its plans.

In trying to capture this “spirit and generosity” that is Kafukule, came my second magic moment! The special educational needs team and I spent a long time devising the best way to illustrate this special place. We finally decided to update and include original testimonies, case studies and reports from the entire time the team had worked with the community, which shows its change of heart and progress and provides a positive example for other communities in areas where the team has yet to reach.

Photo of team writing report in community in Malawi

The team writing Kafukule’s story

What a result! Read the full story here.

What an inspiring place, and what a privilege to be able to visit, report back and thank all our donors for making this story possible.

Thank you, Karen.

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