The Our Talking Hands – Leadership Camp for the Deaf was a great success!
Camp was held at the Gbeogo School for the Deaf in the Upper East Region of Ghana between July 29 and August 3, 2012. The camp included sessions on deaf pride, peer pressure, assertiveness, HIV/AIDS, role modeling, goal-making, deaf pride, a talent show, excursions to the Crocodile Pond in Paga, the Potters in Sirigu, and much more. The camp was an opportunity for 4 students, a Peace Corps Volunteer, and a counterpart from 7 different Schools for the Deaf in Ghana to meet and learn from one another. The participating schools were the Volta, Cape Coast, Bechem, Wa, Savelugu, Gbeogo, and the State Schools for the Deaf. The camp was made possible through the efforts of Peace Corps Volunteers Lauren Corke, Kate Barclay, Kate Stalter, Caitlin Rose, Melissa Mizerak, Lindsay Hanson, and Scott Anderson. Special thanks goes to the Heads of the 7 participating schools. Seventy-five percent of the funding for the camp was provided by the Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP). Twenty-five percent of the camp was funded through community contributions.
Our Talking Hands Co-Founder Promise Mensah presented the camp organizers with funds in hope that the camp will continue as an annual event. Promise says she plans to contribute an even larger community contribution towards future camps, as the camp provides a unique opportunity for deaf students to exchange ideas and celebrate deaf culture. The Leadership Camp is an extension of Our Talking Hands Mission, as it motivates, empowers, builds confidence, and instills pride. It is our hope that the students and teachers bring knowledge they have gained from attending the camp back to their homes, schools, and communities. Students closed from camp feeling energized and filled with hope for their futures. We look forward to this event next year, and have already begun talking about possible venues and sites to visit in beautiful Ghana.
We would like to give a special thanks to Ghana National Association for the Deaf (GNAD) Advocacy Officer, Mr. Robert Sampana. Mr. Sampana traveled all the way from Accra to deliver a powerful message to the campers. As a deaf Ghanaian, he spoke of his experiences, and inspired the students to work hard and focus on their goals. He explained that despite problems with the school system, testing, access to interpreters, and stigmas from within their various communities, it was their own responsibility to overcome these barriers. Mr. Sampana is an excellent example, as he is a leader, who completed university, drives his own car, and holds a significant position advocating for the rights of the deaf community. Most of the students had not met a deaf as accomplished as Mr. Sampana. The students asked questions that helped them realize that they too could achieve their aims. The students left Mr. Sampana’s session feeling more proud and optimistic about their futures. We are so happy to have such a powerful advocate leading the way for the deaf in Ghana.
Once again, we want to thank everyone for their support of Our Talking Hands and the Leadership Camp for the Deaf. It has been a pleasure to watch these students grow before our eyes and look forward to many more years of service to the deaf community.