Sanganai Youth Vocational Training Project
- By Selina Mlambo, Head of Programs and Training Coordinator at NZEVE Deaf Children’s Centre
Sanganai Project, based at Nzeve Deaf Centre, was opened as a response to the need for deaf youth to access tertiary education and to improve their life opportunities. Nzeve DEAF Centre opened in 2000 initially provided only preschool services to young deaf children, but soon realised the need for deaf youth to have something to do after graduating from school. The Project provides vocational and life skills training to deaf youth in Manicaland. Communication barriers, discrimination and lack of understanding about deafness make it difficult for deaf youth to receive training at many tertiary education colleges or find employment. Sanganai project provides practical skill training for young deaf men and women in sewing, carpentry, building, hair dressing, and gardening. The young people also receive Health, Life skills and Business training.
Talent joined Sanganai Project following a girls’ camp aimed at promoting girls’ empowerment, business skills, health and HIV awareness hosted by Nzeve Deaf Centre. During the camp she shared about her dream to become a hairdresser. Cultural beliefs about disability and deafness make it much harder for deaf women to start businesses. Communities do not expect girls with disabilities to achieve much and often they are not taken seriously when they do try. Being a young deaf woman living in rural Zimbabwe, Talent had little opportunity to follow her dream. With the help of her aunt, she moved from rural Honde Valley, to Mutare where she started vocational training in sewing, gardening, hair dressing, life and business skills at Sanganai Project. Her passion and skill were apparent. She was invited to teach hairdressing to other deaf girls and young women as a junior mentor at one of the next girls’ camps. With new found confidence and hope, Talent started braiding hair in her spare time to raise money for her own living. She has since become well known for her unique styles and skill within her neighbourhood. She hopes to grow her business once she has completed her vocational training at the centre.
Nyasha enjoys art, crocheting, knitting, and gardening. She joined Nzeve Deaf centre with her mother when she was just a preschooler. Sadly she dropped out of secondary school a few years before graduation. Having no school qualification, she came back to Nzeve to join Sanganai Project. As a hobby she taught herself to crochet, make beaded bracelets, hats and bags. She would come to Project with different style bags and hats. When asked where she got them, she shared that she made them herself and sometimes sold one or two to friends. She said that she had learned to crochet by watching others do it. She would sometimes use wool from old sweaters, recycling it to make new items. Recognising her talent and interest, she was encouraged do some of her crocheting and knitting during Project. Other girls took an interest in the skill and asked to learn. Although still a student in vocational training, Nyasha also teaches her friends in Project to crochet and knit. She enjoys sharing her skill and her group of students has grown to include other deaf youth and adults in the community. Nyasha makes bags, hats, knitted slippers and baby shoes which have been displayed and sold at local fairs and events in Mutare.