May 6, 2014

Understanding the same language: from the UK to Tanzania

This is a guest post from Sandra Ford, the wife of the St Jude’s School Director, Jon Ford.

When my daughter Rachel, and her husband, David, came to visit her parents here at St Jude’s, they were excited to meet many members of staff and students.

Suleiman in Form 6 is one who she will certainly remember. After watching him lead a Form 6 assembly, over at the Smith campus, Rachel had a brief opportunity to meet him so that they could exchange their stories. She uses sign language back in the UK, while Suleiman described how he taught himself to sign to help children here in Tanzania.

Suleiman shared some of his insights into how in his younger days, at a local government school, he saw some of his peers struggling to be accepted because of the communication difficulties they experienced through hearing impairment. He was pleased when a progressive head teacher integrated the children into mainstream classes, out of the unit that was attached to the school. Initially, the uniform was different to show the children were from the unit but he eventually changed it, so their uniforms were the same as the wider school community and to help them feel more included.

Suleiman learned to sign and spent time helping some of the children overcome difficulties in learning and socialising. Today, he retains that commitment to help people out in the community, who struggle because they have additional needs. Rachel was pleased to be able to pass on some beautifully illustrated books which a primary teacher friend in the UK sent over to provide visual stimulus for children with hearing impairment. It was a great encounter!

As well as having a good heart, Suleiman is also passionate about his studies and won a prize for his soil project at last month’s Science Day at St Jude’s.


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