15 November. Trust. Signing

“Tutaonana baadaye Mae” as I left for the bus and an early start!
Having worked on Core Values, I was concerned that the Pre-formals might not have a grasp of the English vocabulary connected with each of the Values they had highlighted. We had introduced the theme: Leadership last week and some vocabulary connected with it so I linked Core Values with Leadership focusing on Honesty, Trust, Respect, Right and Wrong using cue cards to highlight and define each one. To complete this session we replayed the trust activity I had done with them last week. This time with a lot more success and understanding from the girls!
Our first attempt: One girl blindfolded with 2-3 sighted girls guiding her physically or verbally to safely reach a given destination and return.
I blindfolded first and trusted the two girls to look after me...I was anxious as I didn’t really know whether they understood me...however, all went smoothly. We talked about the task and my expectation of my helpers: “Trust = belief in someone that they will do the right thing”
By the time I had grouped the girls and blindfolded the 6th and final group, I stepped outside anticipating a vision of 6 groups moving between the flagpole and school building.....
“OH NO... Where were they?” I could only see one group and that was the 6th one which I had walked out with!

I quickly headed around the school to witness 3 lone, blindfolded girls wandering aimlessly way down past the canteen with no help from their groups! Potential Danger with the building site in their paths.....Frantically waving and signing at the groups, they finally realised they had to help the girls at risk and bring them back to me. Before returning to the classroom I had one of the girls explain to her peers in Kiswahili what needed to happen. This time I stayed with them, encouraging them to support each other and talk the blinded girl around challenging or potentially dangerous situations. We only had one girl walk straight into a pillar...fortunately she was tough but we used her incident to highlight the importance of trusting her friends. Once they had had a turn at being blind they began to realise that it was very important to guide and support the blind one and that the blind person needed to trust them to do the right thing and keep them safe!

Earlier this year, Sandra, my predecessor Vol, also friends with Renee, had responded to a request from the SEGA girls to invite Renee to teach them signing in Kiswahili. Renee had been sharing this with me and saying that she would love to visit the girls again....so we organised it!
Returning from Dar, she joined us for lunch where she met the Pre-formal girls after which she spent 2 wonderful hours sharing her amazing skills of signing in Kiswahili.

Renee had organised to bring 2 deaf students from our local deaf school in Morogoro, Kilkara unfortunately, their day finished at midday and our session was during the afternoon. However, Renee expertly delivered a very powerful session without the deaf children. Her gentle manner and clarity of explanations made it easy for our girls to learn about being deaf and the challenges it presents. Renee was able to converse in Kiswahili which enabled the lesson to move quickly and easily. It was a pleasure to see the excitement in the girls’ faces as they quickly followed Renee’s lead and learned to sign many words, the alphabet and simple sentences. So quickly in fact, that they were able to have conversations with each other by the end of the session. We were amazed at the speed at which the girls grasped this skill!

Some of the girls had encountered a deaf person but generally they had little concept of deafness. Renee showed some films of the deaf children communicating during various activities at her school. This visual information was very powerful in helping our girls get some insight into the deaf children’s lives.

We challenged them to a game using cue cards to give the word they had to sign. The number of successful words signed within 1 minute was added to their team’s score.....100% participation...lots of laughter and many very proud girls who continued to sign to each other after the lesson and to us as we were leaving SEGA homebound! Great work Renee!

Today, with time to spare whilst we waited for the whole school assembly, we challenged the girls to role play: Signing to each other in conversation. To our amazement, they eagerly took it in their stride and laughed their way through silent conversations which we could all understand. Our girls have asked to become involved at Kilkara, the deaf school, something I will pursue. What a great way to get them involved in their own community at their own request!

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