The Deaf Empowerment Abroad Foundation has been playing a tremendous role in offering support and resources for deaf youths in Jamaica, addressing educational barriers and language access over the years and one of the initiatives which make all this possible is the I.A.M DEAF PRIDE Summer Camp geared at inspiring, affirming and motivating the young people.
The camp was held at Caribbean Christian Centre For The Deaf (CCCD) Knockpatrick Campus in Manchester July 20 – 27, 2019 for Deaf/HoH youth ages 10 -21. This7-day, full language-based camp removed all barriers and made learning accessible and inclusive for all deaf campers. The camp featured professional deaf dancers, Dj and Photographer.
This paradigm-shifting organisation has been making tremendous strides at being a cut above the rest by noting the indicators by which they measure their impact and Founder Diane Black knows exactly how DEAF does that.
“The key indicators we utilize to measure the success and impact of the camp comes directly from the students themselves displaying improved self-esteem and forward-thinking after seeing and relating to deaf professionals,” Diane said.
As with anything meaningful in life, there will be opportunities and challenges faced and DEAF isn’t void of these.
“Without question, our strength is our team’s passion to impact and empower Deaf lives! Like every foundation, the biggest challenge is always funding. Especially being an American-based nonprofit, many grants want the monies to stay local, making us ineligible for many and recipients of none! Another challenge is, the unawareness the American Deaf and Hearing communities have of the significant oppression the Deaf Jamaican’s experience day in and day out. However, we are working to educate our American communities!” states a hopeful Mrs. Black.
To every goal, there is a road map to achieving it and DEAF’s Goal of Bridging the Gap is achieved through not “telling” the Deaf community what they should do, but asking how they can be best supported. Their strategic goals also include educating the hearing public on the importance of language accessibility, and that the Deaf are 100% capable of being productive contributing members of the Jamaican society
Growth is factored in the agenda of Mrs. Black and her team members who are dedicated to reach and make an impact on the lives of more hearing-impaired individuals. The hope of Mrs. Black and her team is to offer two camps a summer; allowing for more deaf youth take part in the camp.
The organisation looks to impact the self-esteem of deaf youth in Jamaica with the affirmation that Deaf Can Do, Be, Dream and Become Anything! Also, they hope to see a shift in the hearing community support.
Getting others to see your vision and keeping them motivated can sometimes be difficult but for goal-oriented team members of the Deaf Empowerment Abroad Foundation, they accept the difficulty with smiles.
“We have a mix of hearing volunteers who are Interpreters or children of Deaf Adults (CODA) , Deaf professionals and Deaf Jamaican community leaders. Although there are cultural differences between American, Jamaica, there are no boundaries between Deaf cultures. It’s quite easy actually. We all have a personal vested interest and Passion for Deaf Culture and giving back. We see the children’s faces, no other motivation is needed.” said Mrs. Black.
Standing a cut above the rest is one of Deaf Empowerment Abroad Foundation’s core characteristics.
“We collaborate with Deaf Jamaicans, members of our team consist of Hearing and Deaf all fluent in Sign Language and a deep understanding that Deafness is a Culture. We also have the support of the Jamaican Cultural Connection. a 501-c (3) Civic Organization founded by Claudette Bailey of Orlando Florida 2010. The organization originated with a special need for Jamaicans in the diaspora to come together in a spirit of philanthropic unity to help the less fortunate in our local communities here in Central Florida as well as in our beloved island, Jamaica” says the founder.
Grateful for technology, Mrs. Black and her team are able to have hands-on access to their Jamaican counterparts through the use of WhatsApp messages, Zoom teleconference meetings, among other virtual spaces when they are back at home in Florida as most of DEAF’s work is in Jamaica.
The Deaf Empowerment team sees a deaf-inclusive Jamaica as one where access to education, medical treatment, and interpreter services is equal for all members of the community. Also, they hope to see more jobs being offered to the deaf, more drivers licences issued, Jamaican Sign Language recognized as an official language. These are a lot of changes, but very doable and one day, they will be part of everyday life in Jamaica.
Deaf Empowerment Abroad Foundation partners with the Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf.