As an African American woman, I often admire the beautiful natural hairstyles that I have see fashioned.
Today, I was shown photos of a unique African hairstyle. It was simply gorgeous! Guess who created the beautiful hairstyle?
Margaret, my newest Deaf student!
Margaret arrived to my host home to be transported to school, but all schools and businesses are closed today because of the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony.
Last week was Margaret’s first time in school, she has not learned the days of the week yet. However, with the photos that I saw today, I was given a window into her mind to learn that she is a talented and creative student. With education, who knows what her career path will become? I know for now, she is eager to learn.
What other of our students are talented?
David, who was born deaf is also creative. Look at the detailed car that he made out of old oil drums that he used primitive tools to pound the drum flat to start making his creation of a police car. Look closely to see how he intertwined scrap metal together to make a truck.
In our class last week, I put a phone in his hand to video capture his classmates learning how to take pictures. When he returned the phone to me, he had taken excellent far and close up video shootings of the students signing. This gave me insight with how he was viewing the scenes while his classmates were learning how to use the other phone for photo shooting.
Also, in having David to participate in this activity, I noticed it heighten his sense of environmental cues. In my next few remaining weeks, it will be interesting to see what other talents will arise among our deaf students who are now learning Zambian Sign Language.
If you have talents or skills and would like to have a Zambian experience when our Valley Forge University Intern leads a short-term team here next spring/summer, leave us your comments.
Yes! It happened naturally as I was beginning to assemble our video recording equipment. I looked up and saw curious looks on my students faces as if they were asking, “What is she doing?” So, I stopped assembling the items and called two students at time to me to demonstrate how to setup a tripod and the cell phone on it for picture taking and video recording. As I was pointing at the various features, they were being taught the sign language. Before I knew it, we were having two-way communication on the subject of picture taking and videoing. Then I had them to take turns and show each other what they learned. I stood there in amazement as I watched students who had no language, now taking the language that I have given them and are signing to each other. WOW!
When I was in Zambia in 1998 with a small Missions team, Joseph Mwaba held two positions. He worked as Sports Director of Zambia Sports Association of the Deaf (ZSAD), as well as the Founding General Secretary to the Confederation of African Deaf Sports (CADS) Zambia Deaf Sports. His positions then, afforded our team to be guests at the State House.
Under the late President Chiluba’s auspice, I had the opportunity to present before his Ministry cabinet a Deaf Awareness presentation on the impact of the lack of Sign Language Interpreters. At that time there were only two interpreters in the entire country. It was Joseph’s first time to have an interpreter for all the meetings we attended while I was in Zambia. When I returned to Zambia in 2018, I learned that my presentation had an impact. Over the twenty years, Zambia has trained fifty certified Sign Language interpreters with the number of interpreters still growing today.
Once again, little did I know my being here in Zambia during a presidential election, would bring about an opportunity to present “Giving the Gift of Sign Language,” to children without language to the forefront with the newly elected president. Although Joseph and I are in the process of fully developing the program along with other needful Deaf programs, today as a Deaf leader with an NGO he is attending a meeting with the newly elected president this morning.
He and other leaders of disability organizations will have an opportunity to present and discuss the needs of Deaf people and to bring this population to the attention of President-Elect Hakainde Hichilema of the Republic of Zambia.
This is such a privilege and honor. Please help me to wish Joseph of Zambia Deaf Vision a successful meeting and for future positive outcomes.
Information about the beginning of this journey can be found at :
How would you like to be sitting in a church service in an open-air building on a Sunday morning and all the sudden see zebras and other wildlife dancing and bucking around while the choir is singing?
It all was a wonderful and joyful time in service! Join me for a short excerpt of Sunday’s praise service here in Zambia in the middle of a safari.
Oh, nsangalale, oh nsangalale ba Yahweh Kuboko kwenu
It means “be happy because the hand of the Lord is on you”
Oh, I almost forgot to mention that afterwards as we sat around in small groups fellowshipping, a group of beautiful peacocks came around us and my two little boyfriends were chasing and playing with them. A sight that I have never witnessed in the state.
I have been to many other countries but I cannot recall experiencing so many different cultural things as I have since being in Zambia. If you ever want to see the real Africa, the big five animals and one of the wonders of the world, Zambia Africa is the place. And yes, they also have beautiful white sand beaches and aqua colored water!
Little did I know the extent of Zambian culture until I started with attempting to learn Bemba, the main dialect spoken in the Copperbelt area of Zambia. Learning Bemba goes beyond memorizing words and basic grammatical rules. You must understand the importance of R-E-S-P-E-C-T and the degree of who it is given to when speaking the language.
Every area of life is embraced with its culture. Living among one of the Copperbelt communities has given me a portfolio of information to learn how I should incorporate it into rudimentary gestures for my students without language for them to understand. Then I can eventually teach them Zambian Sign Language and English. Yes, it is a process.
Join me below in laughter as I have a brief clarification conversation about some of the family roles in Zambian culture. Comment below and share with us your experience with a different family culture.
We learned today during our parent interview that 18 yr old, not 13 yrs. old Collins has been Deaf from 5 months and he has a 15 yr old sister who is also deaf. Neither of the two have ever attended school due to no schools fees. Their mother is a widow with four other children, all hearing who attends school.
His mother happily said, she has seen a difference in him since coming to my class. He practices writing his name repeatedly and counting at home.
She also confirmed that no one in the home speaks or knows English. I told but Collins has already started learning not only Sign Language. He is learning to write and read English! As he demonstrated for her, she just beamed with a big bright smile.
I am grateful that Joseph and I have the opportunity to bring education, life and hope to these deaf children and their families.
We will be looking for sponsors to help us to support these children's education. Your donation will be greatly appreciated. https://www.gofundme.com/f/debbie-giving-the-gift-of-zambian-sign-language
Today was an excitable day when Collins, our 14-year-old deaf student traced over the dotted lines in his beginning writing lesson. His friend, Kelvin beamed so broadly with a big grin as he watched his friend traced each letter until it formed words. Then I gave him a blank sheet to rewrite the sentences. Next, I taught him to sign what he had written. Afterwards, Collins with his deep dimpled grin sat in amazement looking at what he had done. His facial expression was saying, “I can’t believe it!” This was his first time writing something on paper and he wrote his name.
The two boys had returned for their fourth Sign Language class and to play another round of the game, UNO for practicing their colors and numbers. Today, I surprised them by putting pencils in their hands to play a series of the Tic Tac Toe game, making X’s and O’s. It was then that I thought to try to see if Collins could hold a pencil correctly to write. After a few practices, he seemed ready and anxious to do more. That’s when I gave it a try with him tracing letters to form words. In between rounds of the UNO game, I would pause to have him write another sentence. By the time class was finished, Collins had written a short paragraph of his class experience. Plus, we practiced each sentence until he understood the meaning of what he was signing.
Because he experienced his hearing loss as an older toddler, he had acquired his mother tongue, Bemba. In a couple of lesson, he is already learning Zambian Sign Language. Today, not only did Collins learned to write, but he is also learning English, the formal language in Zambia. He will be a multi-lingual student in Zambia Deaf Vision’s program. Before class ended today, I gestured to him asking, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” He responded in Bemba with a big grin, “Doctor.” Please continue to follow Collins’ story along with me on this Zambian journey of “Giving the Gift of Language,” to deaf youth without language.
Early this morning there was a tap...tap at my host's door. We curiously looked at each other as to say, "Hmm-mm, I wonder who that could be this early in the morning?" She went to see who was there. I soon heard my host saying something in Bemba but I could not hear a response. Then she stepped back into the room smiling, and said, "You have visitors." I looked up and two young boys stepped into the room smiling while signing, Mwashibukeni (Good morning.) Mulishani? (How are you?) I am laughing as I am writing this because that was Sign Language lesson two and here two days later, they had remembered what was taught to them!
My two new student found out where I am staying and they sought me out to learn more language. I was pleasantly surprised. I stopped what I was doing and immediately setup the camera to capture these precious dual moments of teaching and learning. I am still learning Bemba and they are learning Sign Language. Because I had not prepared a lesson plan for them, I had to quickly pull a lesson together on the spot. I did!
I pulled out the UNO game that I had been teaching my host to play. I signed with lots of excitable facial expression as we do in ASL, "YOU, HE, SHE, ME TOGETHER PLAY-PLAY GAME! The one little guy eyes became so big and bright with excitement.
I first taught the colors in the game and then expanded it to all the colors until they were able to point at different items in the room and our clothing to identify the correct colors. Next we moved onto numbers 0-9 and then to the special cards in the game giving how to draw two or four cards, reverse, skip, your turn, my turn and I won! With each round they had to rehearse counting out their seven cards.
The game began. We had loads of fun as each person won a round in the game!
Hey! If you know a fun game that I can play with my new students, please leave a comment with game instructions. Thanks!
Good evening everyone. We are slowly starting to cook with oil. Today, among Joseph's busy schedule, we managed to visit the homes of deaf children who are without language. Here is a quick excerpt of a 15 yr old child born deaf and has never learned any language or attended school. Although he has not learned to speak with his hands yet, look at how talented he is with his hands in creating detailed toys from old oil drums and building braii (little cooking grills). Joseph and I will soon start teaching him and other kids like him in Fisenge area.
David’s parents are piece workers. They are grateful to be discovered by Joseph’s organization, Zambia Deaf Vision. We are establishing a Sponsorship program for vulnerable deaf children like David. Help me to find sponsors to help this young boy and others like him to attend Zambia Deaf Vision's Resource Training Center to start their education by first learning Zambian Sign Language.
As you are traveling this summer? Are you required to show your negative COVID results on paper?
Are you also required to check your results test window time frame?. Making sure you are within the correct 72 or 96 hour specific time frame from your departure time. Otherwise, your results will expire and you will need to do another COVID test at the airport.
The reason above is why I unexpectedly left on Wednesday, July 7th, instead of on Monday July 5th after needing to acquire new test results on site at the airport. At the conclusion of getting my second test at the airport I hurried back to my gate only to find that, it was closed. My 8:45pm plane had left.
The long lines of frantic, upset, and anxious travelers showed me that many people were found in the same predicament as me. Although there were hundreds of people flying, COVID-19 has immobilized a lot of activities and employment both in my layover in Dubai and now where I am serving at in Zambia. Despite the setbacks, the Zambian team and I are carefully revising our plans to "Give the Gift of Sign Language" to youth who are without language.
Images and video will be uploaded soon. I am working using spotty internet service and working mostly from my phone at this time. I should have pictures posted along with more blog entries in the next few days.
Feel free to leave a comment about your recent travels.
Continue to follow me on this journey of "Give the Gift of Sign Language"
My desire is to continue making a difference and touch lives by providing two-way communication and Deaf Culture Awareness