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Advancing DeafKidz Jamaica! Hits the breakfast TV screens

Stephanie Groves-McIntyre, Development Officer for the DeafKidz International programme, Advancing DeafKidz Jamaica!, and students from the Lister Mair/Gilby High School for the Deaf in the TV studioStephanie Groves-McIntyre, Development Officer for the DeafKidz International programme, Advancing DeafKidz Jamaica!, and students from the Lister Mair/Gilby High School for the Deaf found themselves on national TV as they demonstrated their dance moves to promote the Comic Relief funded venture!

They were adorning the nation’s TV screens to promote the work of DeafKidz International whilst also celebrating the work of the Jamaican Association for the Deaf during its Thanksgiving Week Celebration.

Timed to coincide with Jamaica’s National Child Month, there is much to praise with a whole host of activities and events taking place as Stuart Harrisons from DeafKidz International commented; ‘Everyone has been invited to attend the Jamaican Deaf Dance Festival, which is a partnership between Advancing DeafKidz Jamaica! and the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission. To be opened by the British High Commissioner to Jamaica, His Excellency David Fitton and by Mrs Hisae Fitton, the festival will empower D/deaf children, to affirm their rights to stay safe and live without the threat of abuse.’

All of which adds value to DeafKidz International’s growing programme of child rights and child protection activity. ‘From the success of our work in Jamaica we are now looking at a wider DFID and UNICEF’ said Stuart. ‘Be assured, we will never leave any D/deaf child behind.’

Kenya – Tackling the challenge of exercising sexual & reproductive health rights

Photograph of a box of unopened condomsWe’ve been working with Marie Stopes Kenya to ensure D/deaf adolescents and young adults are able to exercise their sexual and reproductive health rights. To this end, we’ve looked at current sexual healthcase practice to determine how best this important provision can be made available to D/deaf young people. Given that rates of HIV infection amongst D/deaf young people in Kenya, are higher than those for hearing, we have a real challenge here – to ensure messaging on safe sex and family planning are appropriately articulated and, thereby, susceptibility to HIV reduced. In addition, that clinical pathways are adjusted to encompass the distinct communication, linguistic and cultural needs of D/deaf young people.

There’s much to do and we shall continue to progress this vital work, as we look to configure a joint Marie Stopes / DeafKidz International sexual and reproductive health approach that can be cascaded globally across low resource healthcare settings.

And, as always, we’ll leave no D/deaf child or young person behind!

Tackling the rising abuse of D/deaf children in Zimbabwe

With our colleagues at DFID and UNICEF, and with our partners Childline Zimbabwe and the Deaf Zimbabwe Trust, we’re looking at the challenge of abuse against D/deaf children and young people in Zimbabwe. The reality is that there is no child rights and child protection provision in Zimbabwe for D/deaf children. So we’re working with the Deaf Zimbabwe Trust, to develop their capacity to deliver specialist training that encompasses the distinct communication, cultural and linguistic needs of D/deaf children.

In addition, we’re working with Childline Zimbabwe to ensure their provision is accessible and that D/deaf children who present at their twenty-two community based Drop In Centres are afforded appropriate support. The scale of the task here is staggering. In 2014, Childline Zimbabwe dealt with more than 7,000 Drop In cases. What proportion of these cases featured D/deaf children, we don’t know, but measures are being prepared to record this data, so that our approach is evidence based and we have a baseline from which we can assess the impact of our support. What is known is that levels of abuse are rising and this invariably includes abuse against D/deaf children.

We’ll leave no victim of sexual abuse behind…

Photograph of D7 Paediatric Sexual Assault Evidence Collection KitWe’ve been working with our partners in South Africa, Childline South Africa and with UK Police Link Offer’s for the Deaf (PLOD), to scope out our Signing Safe Futures programme. This will see DeafKidz International work to develop Childline South Africa’s capacity to respond to the needs of D/deaf children who have been victims of abuse – in particular sexual abuse. Our UK PLOD partners will work with the South African Police Service to develop a network of Police Link Officers for the Deaf, with responsibility for affording policing and criminal justice support to D/deaf children and young people who have become victims of crime. This initiative will include the development of communication skills for a range of legal professions including court intermediaries, prosecutors and more.

Delivered across the Childline South Africa network, Signing Safe Futures will see provision at thirteen Thuthuzela Care Centre’s made accessible to D/deaf children who have suffered rape, sexual and violent assault. Here clinical, policing and psycho-welfare support will be provided in the communication mode of choice. All of which serves to illustrate that no matter how difficult the issues, we’ll be there.

There is no immediate solution here – just the first phase of our programme which will take five years but with our partners, we’re committed to the long haul; to building an approach and capacity that can self-perpetuate and be sustainable.

Commissioner Malatji conducts inspections ensuring compliance with convention of rights of persons with disabilities

Photograph of South African Human Rights Commissionar MalatjiThe office of South African Human Rights Commissioner Malatji has the mandate to promote and protect the rights of persons with disability. Recognising that children with disability will be unable to participate fully in society if attitudinal and environmental barriers are not removed, the Commissioner is passionate about ensuring that rights of children with disabilities are protected and promoted.

In line with this, the Commissioner meets with various stakeholders to promote the rights of children with disability. One of such meetings is the dialogue with DeafKidz International. The purpose of this dialogue is to highlight the challenges faced by D/deaf children in South Africa and recommend solutions on how to ease these challenges in collaboration with DeafKidz International.

The Commissioner agreed to support DeafKidz International’s development programme in South Africa and to endorse its composite activities accordingly. DeafKidz International is to report its implementation of its abuse mitigation programme to Commissioner Malatji in the Spring of 2015. Commissioner Malatji is a huge advocate for the rights of D/deaf children and young people in South Africa. DeafKidz International warmly commends Commissioner Malatji’s support of its work.

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