We work with deaf youth and their families through our Deaf Education and Development programme, funded by Deaf Child Worldwide, with the goal of improving the quality of life for deaf youth living in the Kilimanjaro region.
Most of these youths come from poorer families, and this leads to poor access to and retention in schools. A common challenge faced by these families is the inability to pay school fees and scholastic materials for schools equipped to deal with deaf students.
Following these challenges, initiatives were taken to teach families about loaning and saving schemes with the Village Community Bank (VICOBA), and how to develop entrepreneurial skills. VICOBA is a banking initiative used, monitored and managed by a small community approximately the size of a village. With an average of 30 members, VICOBA is not just about credit and saving options, it works as a means of insurance for families in case of emergencies.
Though these parents have been able to make savings, take out loans to start up new business ventures (or to strengthen current ones), and share experience in establishing new income generating projects so as to support their deaf child’s education.
So far 30 parents from two of our groups have taken out loans totalling 1.6 million TSH and were able to return the money with low interest rates.
By introducing this scheme, we have seen unity and empowerment develop amongst the parents. Not only are they able to afford to cover their child’s education, their self-confidence has increased – especially amongst the women – in how to save money. These savings act as a cushion during calamities such as food shortages.
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