Let me give you the details. I worked in a deaf school, for a charity called Signs of Hope. No, I don’t sign well, but I know enough to get by. Mostly I just played with the kids, painted the school, and helped them pump water. The hardest part was pumping the water, because I tried to carry it on my head like they do. No, the hardest part was leaving the kids. I cried like a baby, and I’ve never been the same since.
I named my favorite girl, Black Hiawatha, because nobody could figure out her name. Every time she finger-spelled it to us, the letters changed. But it consistently started with an “h.” Don’t ask me why I gave her an American Indian name. It just seemed to fit.
I loved all the kids, but she was the one who got me the most. I tried to steal private time with her, but it was next to impossible because the kids swarmed me every time I set foot in the school. Nonetheless, “H” and I connected on a level that surprised me. The eyes really are a window into the soul.
About two percent of the population in Ghana is deaf, mostly due to heredity and disease. The government is doing all they can to help the people, but because of the numbers, the deaf schools are crowded and inadequate.
Thousands of deaf, school-age kids wander the streets because their families can’t afford to send them to school. What’s more, they have no way to communicate because most families don’t sign. I was blown away at the number of kids I met in the school who had deaf siblings and parents.
So I’m learning to sign for real now. And I’ve joined the founder of the charity as the marketing/communications person. Once we get our press kit out, you’ll be seeing a donate now button on Gary’s blog.
Oh yea, I did see a few Africanesque things while I was there–an elephant in the wild, a bunch of crazy monkeys, many thousands of beautiful people, and a rainforest full of snakes, spiders and a freaky suspension bridge.
Check out the photos. But I have to say, they don’t do the country–or the people–justice. I’ve been to a lot of places around the world, but nothing can compare to what I saw in Ghana.