The challenge of working with the deaf

Elisee Kabore

Author: Elisee Kabore

At the beginning of this year, I, Elisee Kabore was sent to Guadeloupe Parish to do my apostolate with a community of the deaf. This parish tries to help all those who are deaf to better their lives. A deaf is a person with a hearing impairment. The deaf community includes the deaf themselves, their family members, and all those who have learnt the sign language and work with them. Fr. Martinez, the one in charge of the deaf community at Guadeloupe, encouraged us at thebeginning of the year to focus on learning of the sign language, before getting fully into the pastoral activities. Therefore, our main activity was to learn how to communicate with the deaf through sign language, a key to a successful pastoral ministry. Our sign language classes usually start from 2 pm to 4pm, every Sunday. At the end with have tests and a final exam.           

For this semester, I was in level 2. Comparatively, I can say that level II is more difficult and more demanding than level 1. At least we had a CD which helped us to memorize the signs. Unfortunately, we had nothing to support us this semester. I tried my best to learn the basic signs but I did not succeed. The sign language needs total concentration and a good memory. In fact, it is impossible to write the signs. The only way is to memorize them. But the more the signs are many, the more difficult it becomes to memorize them since some of them are quite similar. In addition, it is obvious that the misuse of signs brings confusion. Moreover, it requires total commitment and a lot of practice. But I did not have enough time for that because of my theological studies at Tangaza College.       

Despite the challenges, I cannot say that this apostolate was not helpful to me. It helped me to know a bit of the sign language, to communicate with the deaf and to create new relationships. Nevertheless, I propose that the formators send people who would like to focus themselves on pastoral theology.

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