Friday, May 8, 2009


The lovely little girl pictured in the new Children's Section of Lott Carey School library is Tracy. Tracy is in pre-Kindergarten and has just started her studies at Lott Carey. She is, quite simply, a remarkable child.

The LOEP team and Tracy spent a delightful afternoon in the Lott Carey library sorting books and setting up the Children's Section (more about that in another post) while Tracy "read" book after book. She could not get enough of those books! Selecting a book from the sorting pile, she pointed to each letter, whispering the letter to herself and once all the words on the page were "read" she examined the picture. Occasionally she would come to one of us with a dazzling smile, point to the picture and talk about the story. We were impressed that this kindergartener could spend an entire afternoon fully engaged in this solitary, quiet activity and seemed to enjoy every minute of it.

Tracy is hearing impaired in a country where deafness is viewed with suspicion and with less sympathy and tolerance than other disabilities. Deaf infants and children are sometimes abandoned and sign language is almost completely unknown so the deaf have no language and no way to communicate with the hearing world.

Tracy lives with her grandmother, one of Lott Carey's excellent administrators, who is determined that Tracy will have the advantage of an education. Little Tracy is no less determined, it seems. She completed her pre-school education in a school where there was no accommodation for her hearing impairment -she learned by watching and absorbing whatever she could. Amazingly, she is at or above her grade level in all areas and has been accepted into Lott Carey although there is no accommodation for deaf students in that school either. With no classroom accommodation for hearing impairment, students like Tracy begin slipping behind their peers and fall farther and farther behind.

LOEP is working on a teacher training program that will help teachers at Lott Carey and partner orphan schools accommodate their teaching and classrooms for deaf and hearing impaired students like Tracy.

Tracy is fortunate to have family/school support because children with hearing impairment are not unusual in Liberia and most do not have a support system. Tricia, an American teacher of the deaf who was recently in Liberia writes: Presently, there are no statistics available as to how many people are deaf or who have a hearing loss in Liberia. If audiologists are available in the country, many do not see them, so there are no statistics on the causes of deafness. But talking to the Principal of the Hope school, David Worlobah, and going through student information sheets, I found that most of the students became deaf after an illness or due to loud noises during the war. These illnesses consisted of malaria, typhoid, or Lassa fever. With these diseases, a high fever is likely, which can cause deafness. Deafness that could be preventable.

No comments:

Post a Comment