It’s graduation time!
We are so happy to see one of our earliest clients graduating from the University of Malawi Chancellor College with his degree in Humanities. Keith has started his own organization called Zero to Hero with 2 other graduates from his university. They will be working with Children of Blessing Trust to assist the children with disabilities attending school already as well as searching for other kids who are not yet in school. On top of this he will be working with the head teachers, teachers and other community leaders to help them work more effectively with children with disabilities.
At our Integrated Preschool this year we have 7 children graduating into Standard One at various Primary Schools. 6 have a disability and one is an able bodied peer. They will join the 75 other children with disabilities from our programs that are already in school! This is an awesome accomplishment!
Priscilla has a mild form of Cerebral Palsy that affects her right hand and leg. She has attended our Preschool and Occupational Therapy programs. She is a real sweetie, always smiling! In the photo she is standing with another of our graduates, Terri, one of our able bodied kids. We hope that their time together at our school will have a lasting impact on both kids but especially we hope that Terri will be an advocate for other children with disabilities in her new school, helping to end the stigma and discrimination against children with disabilities!
Miriam also attends our Integrated Preschool and Occupational Therapy programs. I truly believe she has a future as a model! Whenever a camera appears Miriam has an instant pose ready to be captured on film!
7 of the children in our Hearing Impaired Program went to MUA School for the Deaf for their intake assessment as well. Please pray with us that the right children get in. Only 12 spaces are available for the whole of Central Region each year (Malawi only has 3 regions!) that makes for very stiff competition.
Millie is a 10 year old girl who is profoundly deaf. She first came to us through our Lumbadzi Outreach Clinic. Now she attends sign language classes at our main centre. Children are allowed to start school up to the age of 10 so this is a crucial time for her. Please pray with us that they will accept her to start school in September. It is very hard for children with a profound hearing loss to be integrated into a regular school in Malawi at present. As there are not enough specialist teachers working in the schools and the class sizes are too big! This is an area that Malawi is working to improve.
In other exciting news COBT has hired three new staff members. All of them started this month in July. We are thrilled to now have an Occupational Therapist, a second Special Education Teacher and a Clinical Officer. Having a full time Occupational Therapist is wonderful but having one that is Malawian and already speaks Chichewa fluently is AMAZING! Our Special Education Teacher and Clinical Officer are both trained in Braille and Malawian Sign Language too which is also AWESOME! Keep watching this space to see all the ways these three new staff members impact our clients!