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Increasing Equal Rights :Tanzania’s Deaf Café

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Increasing Equal Rights :Tanzania’s Deaf Café

“I have always thought it would be a blessing if each person could be

blind and deaf for a few days during his early adult life.

Darkness would make him appreciate sight, silence

would teach him the joys of sound.”

– Helen Keller


Disabled people are usually maltreated due to having some deficiency in their body’s function, such as blindness or deafness. Unfortunately due to this condition, they are usually denied a lot of things and are ridiculed. Some of the ways they can be abused are

  • They can be taken as weak, vulnerable or less likely to report abuse, making them easy targets.
  • They live in isolation, either with a few friends or caregivers.
  • They may be afraid of reporting abuse.
  • Those with limited communication abilities and/or cognitive disabilities may find it difficult to report abuse effectively.
  • The abuse results in low self-esteem and, in some cases, a belief that the abuse is somehow deserved.

Setting an example of acceptance of disabled workers is the Neema Crafts organisation which was founded in 2003 by the Diocese of Ruaha in the Iringa region of Tanzania. The centre has eight craft workshop areas, a therapy unit for disabled children, an award winning café, a conference centre entirely staffed by deaf people and a welcoming guesthouse jointly run by the local Mother’s Union. About 10% of Tanzanians have a disability.

The Neema Crafts café is a restaurant in southern Tanzania where all the staff are deaf and sign language is used to communicate. William, a waiter communicated that he didn’t have friends and was denied a proper job due to his disability. But now he has many friends and is happily working in the café.

A customer appreciated the ability of the waiters’ to interpret the facial expressions and give what is ordered. This effort is to reduce the stigma around disabled workers.

Alla Berdnikova, an author, has had deaf parents and lived with deaf people. She has learned a few things about  effective communication with deaf people such as

  • Maintain eye contact.
  • Don’t interrupt, follow the protocol.
  • Be straightforward, down to the point and as concise as possible.
  • If you don’t understand, ask.
  • Cut yourself from distractions.
  • Be expressive and articulate.
  • Observe, learn and get extra information from what you see and feel.

From the efforts of the Neema Crafts organisation, many disabled people are having an almost normal life and this should be not only be appreciated but also practiced so that such people can live peacefully instead of in fear.


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Garima is from India and lives in Nigeria. She studied Biomedical Science from London and has been teaching science. She loves crocheting, cooking and teaching.

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