MASVINGO –The Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) has held a two day basic sign language training program for clerics and community leaders to accommodate them in churches and community programs.
The workshop was held on Wednesday and Thursday last week at Bethany Training Centre and it was led by teachers from Henry Murray School for the deaf.
It was attended by church leaders, Police, Social Welfare representatives and traditional leaders’ representatives.
The thrust of the workshop was to have church leaders learn the plight of the deaf. Most churches do not have sign language interpreters and the deaf are therefore excluded from such gatherings, the workshop was told.
ZCC provincial coordinator Tawanda Mafuta told The Mirror that the workshop stemmed from a church accessibility assessment survey to determine the accessibility of churches to those living with disabilities.
“The survey showed that most churches do not have provisions to accommodate people living with disability prompting ZCC to engage church and community leaders to hold sign language training workshops,” Mafuta told participants.
The research was made public in May 2021 and ZCC Masvingo then engaged religious and traditional leaders to teach them basic sign language in order to accommodate the deaf and understand their plight.
“The workshop comes on the backdrop of exclusion of the deaf in social spaces. This workshop is a step towards ensuring that the deaf are included in all facets of society and not feel left out,” said Ndanatsiwa Marenyenya, a teacher at Henry Murray School for the deaf who facilitated the workshop.
The training workshops sort to create safe spaces for with disabilities primarily in Gutu and Masvingo.
The workshop was mostly conducted using sign language and participants wrote several tests were they interpreted sign languages. The participants were taught sign language around health, hygiene, feelings, greetings, relationships and reproduction.
“We are going to implement what we have learnt here today because the deaf have indeed been left out. They are an important piece of community and all along they have been excluded in community decision making processes because no one was there to interpret what was being said to them.
“We are all equal and we are now working on closing the rift between us. No one chooses to be disabled and this can affect anyone,” said Reverend Misheck Mastara of the Baptist Convention Church in Zimbabwe.https://www.masvingomirror.com