The Deaf PEPE of Senegal – Ephata is a project that has provided quality preschool education holistically. This action of World Missions is the result of the work of the missionary couple Walter and Alzira, who already worked with deaf people. Seeing the need to include children, an awareness-raising work was done with families who timidly joined the project.
Inclusive education or special education is not yet a reality in the country. In addition to the lack of schools that meet this need, there are still other cultural barriers that leave deaf boys and girls excluded from the educational system.
The lack of economic resources is an impediment for families to send their children to the few existing schools that are concentrated in the capital Dakar. The religious worldview is also a blockage. Many Senegalese believe that deafness is a curse or punishment resulting from the sin of parents.
Moreover, there is a belief that the deaf child is not able to learn. As if all this were not enough, these children also suffer all sorts of violence. To try to protect them, the parents leave them hidden at home, because a deaf child can suffer insults and even physical aggression in the street.
At PEPE, these children have found a place of hope and respect. With a teaching adapted to their needs, some goals have been achieved. Among them, the demystification that deaf children are not able to learn; and the improvement in the self-esteem of these boys and girls. Also in the social education program, deaf children have the opportunity to learn sign language, which facilitates their communication. Despite the adaptations in teaching, they follow the program like any other child in their age group.
In PEPE there is a differentiated care in childcare, as they are seen as an integral being. Thus, it is not only cognitive skills that are worked on, but also socio-emotional skills. Likewise, spirituality is developed through Biblical stories told chronologically and through the personal witness of the missionary-educators. Also, children undergo dental brushing daily and receive guidance on oral health through POPE – Preventive and Educational Dentistry Program.
Care and inclusion teach these children how much God loves them and has a world of opportunities for them, far from any limitation.
Thanks to all the brothers in Christ who are already part of the PEPE Deaf of Senegal – Ephata with their prayers and offerings. You have been the voice of God that helps transform the lives of these little ones.
José Ricardo Nascimento
Continental Coordination PEPE Africa
Translated by David Balmant do Espirito Santo