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Children Hopeful in in Tubmanburg Deaf School

first_imgWearing smart uniforms, rows of pupils stand in line at morning assembly as they prepare to perform the national anthem and a little boy raises the Liberian flag with a great deal of solemnity as the children enthusiastically sing their anthem.This is Oscar Romero School for deaf children, one of a handful of specialist privately run facilities for children with disabilities in Liberia. There are no government-run specialist schools.Geraldine “Pinky” Jones is the principal. She is not deaf but has been inspired to work in this field since she was a child. “When I was 12, the first ever deaf school in Liberia opened near my home. I wanted to play with the kids but we couldn’t communicate. I saw them signing and asked them to teach me. The passion grew because I could see how isolated and vulnerable my new friends were.“I went from learning a few words to doing a teaching placement in a deaf school and being trained by the UN in special education.”The residential school, supported by the charity Mary’s Meals, has 47 pupils from primary to secondary with a new intake of 15 planned this semester.She says very few pupils get visits from their families, partly due to the cost, but mostly due to the stigma of disability in Liberia. “Sadly, their parents often want to wash their hands of them,” she says, adding: “I want to drop the notion that these children are hopeless; they are not. My job is to make children hopeful. I see no reason why they can’t live full lives.” The school has recently attempted to integrate older pupils into a local secondary school and vocational college, with limited success. “When they leave here it is hard for them, really hard. Their parents don’t have sign language so they go from here with all their friends around them to a place where no one can understand them. They can get very frustrated and give up on life. But I tell them that they have to keep trying to reach out.”Dr Maria Kett, assistant director of the Leonard Cheshire Disability and Inclusive Development Centre based at University College London says how many people with disabilities live in Liberia is unclear. “The 2008 census had a question asking if people identified as disabled but it didn’t give space for specifics. That figure showed at 3% but we know the real figure is far higher.”Kett says there have been government efforts to support disabled people by including them in wider national poverty alleviation strategies. This is believed to be primarily due to effective lobbying by the Liberian disability community. But there is little dedicated support. She is leading a three-year research project, funded by the UK Department for International Development and the Economic and Social Research Council, exploring the wellbeing and poverty experienced by people with and without disabilities in the same community.“We know that poverty and disability feed into each other. Poor people are more likely to become disabled through lack of access to healthcare, clean water … and disabled people are more likely to be poor. But what we are less sure of is how those links are perpetuated,” says Kett.“Disabled people are some of the most marginalized and excluded in Liberian society but unpacking whether they are marginalized because they are poor or because they are disabled is more of a challenge, but very important in terms of being able to address these issues properly.”The research will help the drafting and implementation of new human rights and disability action plans for the country.Arney N. Steward lost his sight after contracting river blindness during Liberia’s civil wars. Left destitute, he arrived in Lowah, Montserrado County. When he discovered the village had no school, he offered to start one.“I said to the parents, ‘Bring your children to me and I will teach them.’ The next day five children came and I sat in the field and taught them ABC and math. The next morning, they came back.”From that humble start he created the Yassa J. David Christian Academy, which today has 189 pupils from nursery to fifth grade (year 6 in the UK), recruiting children from three villages: Lowah, Jawajeh and Gogein. The thriving school is a testament to his dedication.“After going blind I learned people have no respect for [blind people] and think you can’t do anything,” he says. “But people think that because the government provides disabled people zero opportunities. I want to keep proving that despite my condition I can contribute. We need to support and encourage other disabled people to do the same.”Recently, the parents of pupils have begun fundraising to send Steward to Monrovia so he can learn braille. The hope is that if he does so the school may be able to accept its first blind pupil.“We don’t even have textbooks or chalk but we do have an ethos of self-determination,” says the principal, Joseph Harris. “That is only possible because of our founder. Whenever we think things are too hard, we think about what he’s been through and how he managed to achieve so much. Because of him every single pupil in this school strives to do better.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

How to Leverage Diversity & Inclusion to Move Your Career Forward

first_imgYou’d have to be living under a rock to be unfamiliar with diversity and inclusion these days. After all, the terms make daily headlines.  Just this week while on business travel, I picked up Delta’s Sky Magazine and was impressed by CEO Ed Bastian’s 2 pages about Delta’s commitment to Diversity and Inclusion. When I picked up the USA Today, there was a front-page article about the Pentagon spend of $8M to treat 1500 transgender troops. I say all this to say, diversity and inclusion has arrived and is now integrated into our daily way of life. Yes, there’s still to do but the conversation and actions remain a priority as our world’s makeup continues to shift.I attribute Diversity and Inclusion as a game changer for my career. Back in 2008, I was minding my business trudging along in the technical field. I was a Technical Project Manager managing complex SAP projects, the delivery of branded websites, and customer portals and more. Then Diversity and Inclusion came knocking. At first, I was asked to be a part of a focus group to discuss diversity and inclusion. When the company hired a Diversity and Inclusion Director, we began to see changes in the form of employee resource groups as a part of the strategy. I remained committed to my day job while keeping my eye on the progression of the groups. I attended a meeting here and there and then I decided to volunteer more of my time by being a part of the Black History Month Planning Team. And before you know it, I was heading up the African Heritage Employees Group. I did that for 4 years and boy did everything change in my career.Is Diversity Just a Buzzword at Your Prospective Employer? Here’s How to Find OutYou see it opened my eyes up to the possibilities of making impactful cultural changes. I was consumed by driving cultural awareness and providing professional development opportunities. Before long, my love for diversity and inclusion eclipsed my passion for remaining in Information Technology. As a result of that experience, I shifted functions and worked in Human Resources supporting the Diversity and Inclusion team. I’m happy about that experience because it’s opened my eyes to doing work that I’m passionate about while changing lives. Why do I share this story? I share it because I believe diversity and inclusion is an underutilized tool for bringing out career growth. Some benefits to your career leveraging diversity & inclusion include:Exposure and access to senior leaders inside and outside of your organizationLeadership experienceCultural competencyNetworking OpportunitiesMentoring and Sponsorship Access 3.1★ 3.7★ Expert Software Engineer J.B. Hunt Lowell, AR Software Engineer (Security Team) G-Research New York, NY 4.5★ 23 hours ago 23h .NET Software Engineer Bridgeline Digital Woodbury, NY Simone Morris is CEO of Simone Morris Enterprises LLC, a certified minority and women-owned business enterprise that provides consulting, training, coaching, and speaking services. Focal points for the company include diversity and inclusion and women’s empowerment. The company was founded in 2015 and is based in Norwalk, CT. Senior Software Engineer, Full Stack – Java, Angular Blackbaud Austin, TX Software Engineer American Chemical Society Columbus, OH 23 hours ago 23h Senior Software Engineer – Regulatory Compliance Group Computer Services Amarillo, TX 4.3★ Hot New Jobs For You 3.3★ 23 hours ago 23h 23 hours ago 23h 3.5★center_img 3.9★ 2.9★ 23 hours ago 23h 3.1★ So, with all those benefits ripe for the taking, what holds people back?They aren’t sure where to start or what specific actions to takeThey aren’t aware of the benefitsThey don’t have the time/bandwidth and want to focus on their core jobThey don’t see a fit/place for them to engage Sr. Software Engineer Cameron Craig Group San Jose, CA 23 hours ago 23h 3.9★ Senior Software Engineer Utilidata Providence, RI 23 hours ago 23h It’s not too late. In fact, this a great time to turn the tide and watch the changes that happen as a result of leveraging diversity and inclusion as a part of your career strategy. Let’s look at some options you can undertake to move your career forward.How to Build Your Own Career Path Within an OrganizationChange Your Networking StrategyThe next time you consider who, what, where, when, and how you go about your networking, consider broadening your approach to leverage a diversity and inclusion lens. An example of this is seeking out diverse individuals/associations to connect with. Whether it be your personal sounding board or professional alliances, diversity and inclusion should be factored in for widening your reach for career growth. That action will allow you the opportunity to broaden your circle and build “off the beaten path” relationships that can drive unexpected career advancement. Consider leveraging meetup groups to find more diverse outlets to connect to. The key really is not just to surround yourself with additional diverse communities but to also engage and participate to foster inclusion.Leverage Employee Resource GroupsMost companies have Resource Groups as part of their Diversity and Inclusion strategy. The groups are internal think tanks to offer ideas to learn about engaging with culture and communities, unearth potential marketing ideas, and more. They offer the opportunity to build and demonstrate leadership skills and in some cases get a seat at the table with senior leaders. It’s an underutilized opportunity for some mistakenly attribute opportunities to the diverse category where the offering is available. Don’t sleep on resource groups. Tweak your perspective and get involved as an employee. Attend meetings! Raise your hand for a role. Learn as much as you can from these groups. I guarantee you that you will see benefit from this association.Should You Join a Professional Group?Gain Cultural CompetencyI hope that we all know by now that education is an accelerator for career growth. Diversity and Inclusion education is an opportunity for gaining competitive advantage. I recommend that you take advantage of cultural awareness training provided. This will provide strengthen your toolkit as an influential leader. Outside of your organization, follow and build your acumen via diversity and inclusion thought leaders like Diversity Best Practices, Diversity Inc, Working Mother, Catalyst, and The Center for Talent Innovation. Guaranteed, there are additional options but the aforementioned is a good start. Whilst you don’t have to be an expert, broadening your perspective will allow you to amplify your innovation genes which no doubt will serve you well in whatever career path you choose.Helpful implementation strategies for putting these options into practice include prioritization of the option that best resonates with you, making a plan, executing and tracking against that plan and ultimately measuring your success to highlight corrective actions. Be sure to also have fun on the journey. Know that these actions will indeed impact your career in some form or another. Embedded Software Engineer (C++) L3Harris Clifton, NJ 23 hours ago 23h View More Jobs Senior Software Engineer – iOS Intuit Mountain View, CA 23 hours ago 23h 23 hours ago 23hlast_img read more