Deaf Program Director Underscores Challenges facing Deaf Children in Liberia

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The Director of Hope for the Deaf, David T. Worlobah, says deaf children and even adults in Liberia are more vulnerable than other physically challenged people.

Mr. Worlobah speaking in an interview with the Daily Observer recently at the Hope for the Deaf Center on the compound of the United Methodist on 13th Street said because deaf persons appear like normal people, they are made to feel deprived by the way people talk or act to them.

Worlobah spoke at a brief program organized by the Hope for the Deaf to compile a documentary on problems facing deaf people in Liberia.

Citing several instances about ugly treatments given deaf persons, Worlobah said they find it more difficult to cross motor roads especially in Monrovia and other busy towns because they are unable to communicate to the understanding of drivers.

He said deaf children spend much time standing by roadside to seeking assistance to cross because they unable to communicate with normal people.

“And when he/she gets on car without communicating as others do, people make them to feel inferior,” he added.

He further noted that deaf girls are vulnerable to rapists because they are unable to speak out to the hearing of people, and as such they are rapped on many occasions.

He said at one point in time two deaf girls were raped and the alleged perpetrators were detained for a day at the Monrovia Central Prison, but he was surprised to see the same men out after a day.

He added that most times some men will pregnant deaf girls and go away from them because they are unable to call names, stressing, “They are indeed vulnerable and need help from government to have a well prepared center with trained people to teach them.” 

“Another key instance here that is a serious challenge is medical treatment for the deaf at a health center.  There is no one, not even the parent to interpret to the medical personnel the health problem encountered by the deaf.  This has led to the death of one of my students identified as Patience because the doctor could not diagnosed her case as the parent were unable to interpret her concerns to that doctor,” Worlobah said.

He cited another instance that many parents do not identify with the deaf as they do to other children who are not challenged by this condition.

Concerning academic challenge and job opportunities for the deaf, Mr. Worlobah recalled that the Hope for the Deaf was established to provide education for the deaf children through sign communication to make them marketable.

He said they started the program with a tutorial class earlier, and in 2003 it became a fully recognized institution for the deaf in Liberia.

“We provide academic education and vocational skills to give these deaf children the opportunities to be marketable in the society.  As you may know, it is quite challenging for a normal person without a degree to get a job.  What’s about deaf person who cannot explain his/her potential?  We therefore did this to teach them through sign that they will overcome the challenges,” he noted.

Specifically for the vocational skills the director noted that students are learning shoe making and Tailoring.

He said the deaf persons in Liberia are grossly marginalized in terms of education as communication with them is skillfully done through sign.  By that he said it will be better government provides a center with trained people in sign communication to provide opportunity for these people.

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