South Africa is a diverse country; diverse in its people groups, its geographical terrain as well as having diversity in the resources that parents with Deaf or Hard of hearing children (D/HH) can access.
Geographical distance results in difficulty accessing many resources including schools for the Deaf and even some of our THRIVE events. This has seen families in rural and developing contexts having a limited number of choices for their child and consequently sees them sent off, as young as five years old, to a boarding school that accommodates Deaf children with the hope of them developing language and acquiring an education. Many of these parents in turn only see their children 4 times a year and are unable to access sign language classes, which results in an inability to communicate with their Deaf child during school holidays. These areas also see a high prevalence of Deaf related stigma. It is not uncommon to hear heartbreaking stories of how some extended family and some community members regard the Deaf child as a “curse”. Then consider that more than two thirds of South Africa’s Deaf kids come from a developing context – there are many South African families needing support who are typically unable to access support.
Consequently THRIVE desires to impact areas such as these too, and adapt parent support strategies to be contextually relevant. Whilst collaborating with Audiology departments that serve the areas concerned, parent days are organized where parents can access information, engage in Sign Language instruction, and in group sharing sessions which are facilitated by a THRIVE parent leader. Issues around stigma and communication challenges amongst others are discussed and parents express huge relief in being able to connect with other people in their area to share their joys and burdens with. The intention is to identify parent leaders in these communities over a two year period, who are then equipped to lead parent to parent support groups with the other parents in their community.
THRIVE currently has capacity to facilitate two outreach projects biennially. As funding and team structure grows, we will also be able to expand this facet of THRIVE.
Outreach also includes day events at schools in developing contexts which aim to unite and encourage parents and families in those areas.