Tuesday, October 23, 2012

200km silent walk for Deaf awareness

After four days and a gruelling mountain pass, Charles Nyakurwa reached Worcester, the final destination in his 200km silent walk to raise awareness for the Deaf community in South Africa. 
Charles started his walk at The Food Barn restaurant in Noordhoek, where he works as a waiter, and made his way towards the N1, stopping in at various schools and organisations along the way, such as the Dominican School for the Deaf in Wynberg, the Mary Khin School in Observatory, and Noluthando School for the Deaf in Khayelitsha. 
His final destination was the National Institute for the Deaf in Worcester.

Charles completed the walk in silence, communicating via pen and paper when necessary, to experience firsthand the reactions and attitudes of the hearing community and the challenges Deaf people face when it comes to communication. 
September was Deaf Awareness month, and I wanted to do something to link up the many different organisations supporting the Deaf community in the Cape,” said Charles. “People have been very generous and supportive of this initiative and I hope to make it an annual event. Next year, I’d like to see members of the Deaf and hearing community joining me on the walk.”

Charles is the founder of Deaf Hands at Work (DHW), a social enterprise offering training and job creation for Deaf people using South African Sign Language (SASL) to bridge the communication gap. DHW trains people for employment as carpenters, seamstresses, painters etc. 
Charles won an award from UnLtd South Africa and they put him in touch with Futuregrowth Asset Management, who were looking to support a local entrepreneur who was making a difference in his community as part of their Good Money campaign. 
Futuregrowth published information about Charles and DHW on their Good Money website 
(www.thisisgoodmoney.co.za) and called for votes to support his cause. 

The target was 1000 votes, and thanks to a lot of interest from the community and a number of radio interviews, this target was reached on the night before Charles started his walk. Futuregrowth will be donating R10 000 to DHW, which will go towards a sewing project that will train six Deaf women aged 21-41 as seamstresses. A portion of the Futuregrowth donation will also go towards upgrading the DHW website.

The women on our sewing project will be sewing our unique range of Deafstyle t-shirts, which we will sell to raise further funds for DHW,” said Charles. 
Charles is extremely energetic and inspiring, and he’s making a very real impact through the practical training opportunities offered at DHW,” said Michele Usher, Futuregrowth’s head of marketing. “This is exactly the kind of enterprise we are encouraging through our Good Money campaign and we hope his story will inspire other budding entrepreneurs.”