Education for deaf-mute children
In Aru, a town in the North-East of the DR Kongo, hearing and deaf-mute children go to school together. The Centre d’Education et de Réhabilitation à Base Communutaire (CERBC) makes sure, as well, that students get sufficient information about HIV and Aids.
Education must start early
Ismael Byaruhanga found a new home in Aru. Like many others he had fled from the civil war in the East of the DR Kongo in 2002 to the Ugandian frontier. Aru has stayed calm and peaceful till today. In the beginning Ismael Byaruhanga continued doing his work, i.e. examining the eyes of school children and there he met with many deaf-mute children a great number having lost their hearing because of meningitis. But nobody really cared. Therefore in 2004 Ismael Byaruhanga together with a small team founded an educational centre for deaf-mute people, the CERBC. For a couple of years now students on all levels with and without handicap have been educated together. The school is approved by the authorities.
It is fairly quiet in the schoolyard during break because many students use sign language. A teacher tells us how excited she was at the end of the last school year waiting for the results of the final exams of the 6th year. Five deaf and four hearing children learned together in this class and all of them had passed the official exam.
Some of the handicapped children are boarding on the school grounds. Last year there were 50 children, this year there are only seventeen, because many parents cannot afford the necessary 15 € per month for schooling and board. Another reason is that handicapped children are considered less worthy and so families often wonder why they should spend a lot of money on such a child. But at school they are respected and valued.
AIDS-instruction program for primary schools
Contacts between DIFAEM and CERBC have existed since 2008. At that time the school found out that many girls at the age of 13 to 16 years leave school because they were pregnant. One reason being that there is no sexual education/instruction by parents. Besides school authorities realized that students and teachers alike did not have enough information about Aids and HIV.
CERBC and DIFAEM together developed an AIDS-instruction program for primary schools still running in its 5th year. An important part of this program is a group of young people who instruct and inform children and youngsters about HIV and Aids through play-acting. On top, teenagers and grown-up people are trained as multipliers in the program.
HIV and Aids are still important topics for CERBC. The threat of schoolchildren becoming infected is real. Therefore CERBC and the young Aids-Club are fighting together against any further spreading of the disease.