Our founder Francis Phiri was fortunate to attend the 54th Biennial Conference of the National Association of the Deaf in Hartford, CT July 3-7th. This was a great opportunity for Give Back to Community Zambia to build relationships with other Deaf organizations and Deaf educators.
During the Conference, Francis attended numerous workshops on Deaf education topics and had a great opportunity to meet personally with the Executive Director and founder of the Zambian Deaf Youth and Women organization in Kite, Zambia. Mr. Musukwa attended the NAD Conference as part of his tour in USA to build awareness of the needs of the deaf community in Zambia. Francis and Mr. Musukwa continued their discussion about the upcoming GBCZ sponsored Deaf Education Summit to be held in Zambia later this summer. That conference will focus on Deaf education collaboration and the struggle for social justice and equality for Deaf persons in Zambia.
Francis was also building on the GBCZ relationships with other Deaf organizations like IDEAL, Internation Deaf Education Advocacy and Leadership. He met with IDEAL President and Founder Isidore Niyongabo to discuss details for the Zambian Summit event this summer. IDEAL is one of our co-sponsors for this event.
Here is what Francis had to say about the NAD Conference:
"I was overwhelmed by the response about GBCZ and my personal story! It was one of the best conferences I've ever attended. I was inspired to see my childhood friend from Zambia, Frank, meet so many Deaf leaders, teachers and educators. I was able to attend different workshops for example advocating for deaf rights, access to education and interpreters, how to improve interpreting, how to improve access to services to incarcerated deaf people, how to improve access to mental health services for the deaf and hard of hearing, and much more! We will be taking all that we learned here at the US conference and utilizing and sharing it to improve and educate in Zambia.
The NAD conference was an incredible opportunity to network! We met many different people who are interested in partnering or supporting GBCZ in various ways. There are two that we think are possible to start something with sooner rather than later.
My good friend, Isadore, introduced me to his friend, Jeffrey Mansfield, a design Associate at MASS https://massdesigngroup.org/. Jeffery and I had a brief discussion about what students from Jennifer Memorial do after they graduate from 7th grade (generally in Zambia K-12 is not free, however Jennifer Memorial school is free for grades 1-7). After that most students don't continue school because they can't afford it or they don't imagine any real future or career for themselves. Also, most of the students attending Jennifer Memorial are homeless. Jeffery explained that his organization is beginning to spread around the world including African countries like Rwanda and Liberia creating buildings with a goal of creating places of dignity. He offered the idea of a K-12 school for Jennifer Memorial as well as a community hospital! To be clear, these are only ideas now the Jeffery brought up during our conversation. Jeffery will be in San Francisco this month so we will be meeting before the end of the month and I will send you another update about our discussion.
I also met with Michael Stein, a partner at Stein & Vargas, LLP. He is a deaf attorney with a goal of achieving equal access rights for the deaf. Michael approached me with his business card and said how impressed he was with me and how outspoken I was at the conference. He said he's interested in partnering with GBCZ because his organization has a grant which focuses on supporting deaf individuals who want to become lawyers themselves. His idea is to use the grant to provide full scholarships to the University of Zambia for deaf law students. Currently there are no deaf students because there is no access for them. The grant would not only cover living expenses and tuition to the law program, it would also hire the required interpreters, note takers, etc. GBCZ's role would be in connecting with training for the interpreters to guarantee a higher standard. Again, this is not confirmed, we will be following up to continue this discussion."
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