Hope School For The Deaf, Monze

Amazing though it sounds, the Southern Hope School for the Deaf is already into its second term! The school is currently meeting in a rented building, but the specially-built premises should be ready by Christmas.

So far we have nine pupils aged between 5 and 12, but this is only a fraction of what needs to be achieved – because we have now seen a report which tells us that there are 237 children with hearing problems in the area.

This is even more serious than it sounds – the vast majority of those children have no opportunity to travel to the nearest town of any size for schooling, and the only audiological testing facility currently available is in the capital, Lusaka, which is fully 250km away.

The proposal is that in addition to general education and instruction in sign language, the Hope School should be equipped to provide mobile audio-testing facilities for the area. Although we were pleasantly surprised at the relatively low cost, in British terms, of starting the school itself, the proposal for such broader facilities is considerable - we have applied to Comic Relief for £195,018, which we hope will be spread over a four-year period.

There has to be some means of funding the school, funding outreach to find other deaf children who need help, and to provide employment for older deaf children and their parents. So, drawing on the his personal training and experience of starting the Kaloko Press some years ago, the director has proposed to set up a commercial printing project at the school.

Meanwhile in Britain, a new series of sponsor forms has been printed, each showing a colour picture of a child at the school – and, delightfully, one of them is young Mwewa Mwila, son of teaching assistant Jenipher, whose family were behind the whole idea. Ten sponsors have already come forward.

The pupils already attending have already made great advances – and it has to be remembered that these are children who received absolutely no education at all, because of their disability, so the progress they are now making is little short of dramatic. There are reports that the staff of the school are going out of their way to help all the pupils, even at the expense of their own free time.

There is an urgent need for certain vital equipment – cassette-tape machines, video machines, and televisions become very important in this situation.

Oh, and here’s something you certainly won’t know, because it hasn’t been made public… but the director is showing the way himself, by learning sign language. He appears to be doing rather well, but of course we haven’t seen him in action at the school yet!

deaf school boys

How Hope Began in Monze