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Message from Malawi: why I'm learning sign language for my return to Africa

I've been back in the warm heart of Africa for about a month now and it feels so great to be here.

It's been a busy few weeks with Mary's Meals as we've started distributing backpacks to pupils again and the team has also been planning the next set of expansions to allow many more hungry children to receive a daily meal in school.

Although I've visited lots of schools and Under Six Centres, I still get the same excited feeling when approaching every one of them. However, last week I was slightly nervous about taking a trip to one of the schools where children receive Mary's Meals because, although I've been learning the Chichewa language and can usually speak to the pupils, I was going to need a whole other language to communicate with the children at this school-Mary View School for the Deaf.

Mary View is a specialist school with 172 pupils who are deaf or extremely hard of hearing. It's a boarding school that offers pre-school and primary education. In preparation for my visit I jumped on YouTube to learn as much as I could so I was able to communicate with the children; it felt like my first day in Malawi all over again!

I walked into one of the pre-school classrooms and signed 'good morning' to the children. I was so happy when they responded-I'd been able to sign it correctly!

I tried my best to communicate with the children on a one-to-one basis, asking how they were and what their names were. I just about managed to remember the alphabet, but I still felt safer writing down what I thought they were signing to make sure I was on the right track.

The children were so patient with me and keen to help with my signing. It was amazing to see these children communicate without the use of their voices and for a second I was so immersed in them I forgot I could speak.

Meeting the pupils at Mary View was an inspirational moment for me here in Malawi, and has encouraged me to learn more sign language. I hope to visit them again soon and practice all the new words and phrases I have learned!

Contextual targeting label: 
Education

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