Zambia: Caring for the deaf

Date: July 1, 2011
  • SHARE:

My name is Percos Sinkamba and I am 33-year-old man from the Copperbelt Province in Zambia.

I am the founder of Good Shepherd Deaf Care Mission and we care for 740 deaf people in ten districts of my province. I formed the organisation in August 2003 and I have trained a group for the deaf in sign language.

My passion to help the deaf and differently-abled comes from my friendship with a man called Rueben, who is now dead. He taught me sign language and was 19 when he died.

He had developed water in the spinal cord and I helped interpret for him at the hospital and also paid his hospital bills.

My organisation works with, among others, the Ministries of Education and Health, the police and the district AIDS task force. We have trained young people with disabilities in different skills such as tailoring and metal fabrication. We have also trained a good number of deaf to help during elections because we want them to also effectively participate in choosing their leaders and in governance issues.

These people are normally treated as second class citizens so I wanted to train them in various skills so that they are able to sustain themselves. The community greatly appreciates the work we do.

At first I was working with some missionaries from America but they were not fulfilling their promise so I told them to leave. They would request money to help the deaf but they were not using it for the intended purpose.

In order to sustain the project, we have a small business of block making to help us to raise funds. We also got a grant from Ministry of Community Development and Social Services to help us buy the block making machine.

At the moment we are renting four offices but we are planning on getting a plot so that we can build our own shelter and offices so that we stop renting.

Some of the deaf are HIV-positive and we support them through school fees, education, counselling and medication, through and with the help of our stakeholders. We have about three young ones who are HIV-positive and about 150 adults are living with HIV. Sadly we lost some last year, one died from tuberculosis and another from AIDS.

After we train them, regardless of their health status, we give them some start-up money and we monitor to ensure that the money is used effectively. In Kitwe they have opened a restaurant and are running a car wash.

The level of discrimination of deaf is very high and there is a lot of gender-based violence (GBV) and a lot of marriages have broken up. For example, when a couple has a deaf child in some instances husbands have deserted and neglected them and gone to marry other women. They blame the wife for such a child.

Two deaf women have also been abandoned after being impregnated by men because the men said they were laughed at for impregnating deaf women.

I am also keeping a nephew that was abandoned by his mother after he was born and she realised he was deaf. We are also helping 50 blind people at Fisenge centre; currently we are organising second-hand clothes to give them.

It is a mistake for anyone to suggest that the deaf children be integrated in the same schools as other children; it’s unfair to the deaf. Some deaf have never been to school but I teach them sign language.

A woman that I wanted to marry left me because of the number of deaf people that were coming to my place. She told me she could not cope and I appreciate that because it is better than pretending.

This “I” Story is part of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service special series on care work.

Comment on Zambia: Caring for the deaf

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *