The events of the past few days with the so-called ‘fake’ interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s Memorial have highlighted the many issues which face the Deaf community in Africa as a whole. This was the very reason that Aurora Deaf Aid Africa was set up.
In many countries in Africa the Deaf community has been marginalised or completely ignored. It is years behind countries like the UK and USA, although with recent cuts and university closures in the UK the Deaf community is suffering here too.
I was fortunate enough to travel to Burundi in Central Africa two years ago. There I met members of the Deaf community and the sign language interpreters that serve them. I travelled to the two schools that educate Deaf children up to the age of 11. Roughly 200 Deaf children educated in a country the size of Wales! There are many more Deaf children in the rural communities that never get the opportunity for an education.
But back to the issue of sign language interpreters. Two years ago there were only two competent sign language interpreters in Burundi who learned their craft through mixing with the Deaf community, the Internet and also spending a couple of weeks in Kenya. They usually only work with one particular group of people who pay them from their own pockets. What about the wider Deaf community? Since my visit they have tried to recruit more people to become interpreters. They have also had the inaugural meeting of the Burundi Sign Language Association. They want and need more training. We at ADAA are particularly keen to encourage female interpreters.
We at Aurora Deaf Aid Africa have only been able to play a small part at the moment. We want to do more work with the Deaf community and the interpreters but we need your financial support. We want to do much more than just raise awareness. We want to actually see quality interpreters developed and supported.
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