“I help deaf children because people don’t think that deaf children can learn. Parents make their deaf children work hard, others hide their children because families don’t want people to see them. Most deaf people in Tanzania struggle because they cannot communicate with people in their communities and very few deaf people have the opportunity to attend school past primary school, but Childreach Tanzania is changing all of this.” - Jonathan
Jonathan is one of the committed individuals who makes Childreach Tanzania’s Deaf Education and Development Programme a success. His main responsibilities include teaching sign language to children, teachers, and parents; working with the teachers and students at Ghona Vocational Training Centre for the Deaf; and enthusiastically supporting the organisation’s Deaf Education and Development Programme.
Jonathan joined Childreach Tanzania in 2014 but his journey as an advocate for deaf children and youth began in 1996 when he was working as an electrician in Mwanza. While working on a job building a hall of worship, Jonathan met a young man who was deaf. The young man and Jonathan began attending the same church and Jonathan started writing everything down for the young man so that he could understand. After a year of writing sermons every Sunday, Jonathan asked the young man if there was another way that they could communicate with one another. This is when Jonathan learned about the Tanzania Association for the Deaf and his life changed forever.
Jonathan began taking sign language classes and eventually became an interpreter. Since then, Jonathan has facilitated trainings for the Tanzania Association for the Deaf and has worked with many teachers and parents of deaf children. He has also worked at the national level, advocating for sign language to be included in the Tanzanian Constitution. In 2001 he was chosen to review the constitution and ensure that the deaf community was represented fairly.
Every staff member and volunteer at Childreach Tanzania now enjoys attending Jonathan’s weekly sign language courses. In mid 2015 Jonathan was very excited to begin teaching sign language to 25 staff members of the Moshi Municipal Council. With new skills, the municipal staff will be able to better communicate with deaf people.