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Volume 5, Issue 3

March 2012

What is International Development? or other social causes, on the “non-disabled” majority where they believe it I was born in Nigeria and has the greatest impact. lived there until I moved to And so deaf people and the U.S. in my teens. I’ve those with other disabililived here now for 26 years, ties are shoved to the end but I have never forgotten of the line for receiving the the lessons of these formaservices that they need. tive years. As a deaf girl International developliving in Nigeria, I was relament is not about handtively lucky—my parents beouts or providing aid to lieved in education for me, people in poor countries even though they had never “because they cannot do met another deaf person things for themselves.” It A typical street in Nigeria’s biggest cities is filled and didn’t have a clue where is about recognizing the with bumper-to-bumper traffic and people. to get the services I needed. humanity of all of us, inSomehow, they found me cluding those who live in excellent signing programs poor countries. It is about for deaf children, and I was able to complete my eduimproving the quality of cation through high school in Nigeria before enrolling all human lives, including at Gallaudet. But I remember how many deaf people I ours, by raising levels of met during those early years did not have the opporliving and freedom, so that tunities I had. Many deaf kids were shunned by their people are able to pursue families, and some even turned to a life on the streets a higher standard of living begging or prostituting themselves. Even those who for themselves and their were “lucky” often did not get past the sixth grade befamilies. When people in fore they had to go out and make a living, as families poor countries have a betpreferred to spend their scarce dollars on “whole” chilter standard of life, we all To see Kubby’s vlog, dren rather than their “handicapped” deaf children for benefit in many ways; for visit whom they could not envision successful lives. instance, development These early memories were partly why I studied has been found to reduce international development in graduate school. I was the incidence of wars, as people have a higher stancurious about why, in some countries, relatively able dard of living to protect and more incentive to cooperpeople—like most deaf people are—are not given ate rather than make war. an opportunity to contribute, while in other countries, This is one reason I like DDW’s approach and why these opportunities to contribute abound if only we I am proud to be a member of DDW’s board. DDW’s grasp them. I wondered too, what I could do to make core values include collaboration with local Deaf orgaa difference in the lives of other deaf people, living in nizations rather than “experts” stepping in and offering countries where they didn’t have the opportunities I charity, which ends up exacerbating the original probhad. A large part of the reason is that there is so little lems. It means being a positive catalyst for change, to go around in the first place, and governments pre- and working with local organizations that develop their fer to spend their money, be it for health, education own programs and initiatives rather than us imposing By Khadijat “Kubby” Rashid, Ph.D.

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our ideas from outside. And it means never looking down on people in developing countries because we recognize that all people, regardless of their social or economic background, have the capacity to succeed, and deserve access to language, education and community. We do all this, even as we stand by the values that have made us strong—including respect for diversity and signed languages. I am proud to be a part of DDW!

Zuma Rock is one of Nigeria’s best-known landmarks.

Dr. Khadijat Rashid was the first Deaf White House Fellow and currently teaches business and international development at Gallaudet University. She has served on the DDW’s Board of Directors for the past two years and chairs DDW’s Operations Committee.

Did You Know?

• There are more than 18 million students in Nigerian schools at all levels. That is more than the total human population of South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, Morocco, Tanzania and the school population of France, Britain and Spain. • Nigeria has the highest rate of twin births in the world. • Age earns respect in many families. As a mark of honor, an older sibling may be addressed as “Senior Brother” or “Senior Sister” instead of their name. • Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country, accounting for about one-fifth of the continent’s people. • English is the main language of Nigeria. Apart from that, over 300 languages are spoken in the country. Sources:, and


Discovering Deaf Worlds

Thank You, Christy! In 2007, Christy Smith co-founded DDW with Dave Justice, and the duo set off on a year-long world tour to Christy Smith on her first of document many trips to Shuktara in India. the lives of Deaf people in eight countries. On this tour, they connected with over 100 Deaf associations, schools and nonprofit organizations, and laid the groundwork for DDW’s current network. In later years, Christy continued as a DDW board member. She has delivered a number of presentations on DDW’s work and co-directed the film Discovering: Shuktara, which helped raised substantial funding for both Shuktara and DDW. Christy’s eagerness to make a difference began with her involvement on CBS TV’s Survivor: The Amazon, where she quickly became a renowned role model in the Deaf community because of her natural charisma and perseverance. Now she has made the difficult decision to leave DDW to commit her time and effort to other interests. She recently completed a master’s degree in secondary education, and has also taken on the role of intern coordinator at Shuktara. Once or twice a year, she returns to India to work with the 20 boys and girls at Shuktara. Her passion will carry on, and we hope you will join us in wishing Christy the best of luck in her future endeavors. Thank you, Christy!

Creating Opportunities for Deaf Children in Vietnam By Mai McCann The majority of people in Vietnam live a very simple life with few luxuries. Hot water in the home is a rarity. Most homes do not have refrigerators, and fresh food is bought every day. Some people work five days a week, but a six- or seven-day work week is more typical for 50 weeks of the year. Women are the backbone of the country, but are also very much second-class citizens. As one father said to me in front of his children, “Ten daughters are not worth one son.” Despite many everyday challenges, Vietnamese people carry a love of life that we in the western world have much to learn from. Day-to-day life revolves around the family, and strong ties among family and friends last a lifetime. While volunteering for an Australian charity in 2006, I became aware that many deaf and hard of hearing children attended mainstream schools, but with absolutely no assistance. As a result, these children rapidly fall behind their non-deaf classmates, and within two years, they often leave school. This can then lead to a life of

Children and their teacher show their name signs. limited communication skills. Never fully developing a language, they use only basic gestures with their immediate families. Friends are scarce, social exclusion is common, and there is little prospect of worthwhile employment.


(Left!to!Right)!Rohini!Bhatia,!Co>President;!Anupa!Gewali,!Co>President;!Dave!Justice,! DDW!International!Programs!Director;!Davin!Searls,!DDW!Executive!Director;! Beth!Beatriz,!Campaign!Coordinator;!Ria!Pal,!Campaign!Coordinator!

DDW’s%presentation% was%both%inspiring%and% incredibly%informative.% Most%of%our%audience% had%little%knowledge%of% the%issues%facing%Deaf%communities%(and%of% why%advocacy%and%community>based% initiatives%are%key%to%addressing%inequity),% but%DDW%did%a%wonderful%job%making%the% information%relevant%and%easily%digestible.% They%were%charismatic%and%sincere% speakers,%and%much%of%the%general%feedback% that%we%received%about%our%benefit%dinner% was%praise%for%DDW's%presentation.%I%would% highly%encourage%anyone%to%bring%DDW%to% their%event,%and%I%know%that%we%look% forward%to%working%with%them%in%the%future.% —Ria!Pal,!Campaign!Coordinator!!



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I wanted to help some of these children, particularly in Hội An, where I had been volunteering. In 2008, I began the long and difficult task of establishing a charity, Paddy’s Jewel. With absolutely no effort, I found a group of children aged 4-14 years and began filing mountains of paperwork while trying to find a Vietnamese teacher. When I was unable to find a qualified Vietnamese teacher prepared to teach in Hội An, the best I could offer was to send three children to a boarding school. That was all I could support on my salary. The three children selected were chosen simply because they were the youngest. They attended the boarding school for one year, and initially I was happy about this. But then the families informed me there was no responsible adult supervising the children at night and sign language instruction was not a priority. Much to my relief, we finally found a teacher who was young, enthusiastic and proactive about teaching in Hội An. Through sponsorship by Paddy’s Jewel, we now have four deaf children receiving their education in a very small classroom in Hội An. They no longer live away from their families. We needed a cook for the children, and I remembered a teenager, Lanh, who I had met in 2007. Lanh seemed such a sad, unhappylooking child with little to look forward to. When the classroom in Hội An was set up, I immediately thought of hiring her as a cook. I learned she was already employed making lanterns by hand for the tourist trade, a monotonous job of cutting, gluing and sewing material to wire frames. She was working ten-plus hours a day, seven days a week, fifty weeks a year. Her salary was 800,000 VND—equivalent to $38 U.S. While most people talk, laugh and interact with their workmates to break up the day, Lanh, the only deaf worker, was often excluded. Her employers did

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? – Mary Oliver

Newsletter services provided by T.S. Writing Services, LLC A Deaf-Owned Company


Discovering Deaf Worlds

not provide accommodations. She was simply cheap labor. Despite this isolation, Lanh was grateful to have a job where she could contribute to her family’s income. Many deaf children in Mai and Lanh at work for Paddy’s Jewel. Vietnam are unable to find work, since the social stigma is that a physical disability equals a cognitive disability. After an evening talking to Lanh’s parents, they agreed she could come work for Paddy’s Jewel. Lanh now works more reasonable hours where she cooks, shops, and maintains the property. She is paid the equivalent of $47 U.S., nearly 30% more than her previous job. And her spare time is spent in the classroom— learning! Within the first week, Lanh’s entire demeanor changed. She was no longer sad, lonely, withdrawn and depressed. She bounds into work each day with a milewide smile. Paddy’s Jewel aims to provide sign language training, education, and unconditional support to deaf people in Vietnam. With one child at a time, we can create much needed opportunities for them to give back to their community. For more information on Paddy’s Jewel, please visit or e-mail

What is DDW? Discovering Deaf Worlds is a 501(c)(3) non-profit international Deaf advocacy organization dedicated to empowering Deaf and hard of hearing communities in developing countries. DDW strives to advance the capacity of local Deaf communities around the globe to meet their social, educational and employment needs. For more information, visit:

Epic Arts Embarks on a U.K. Tour of Sharrabang

Dancers rehearse for the U.K. tour of Sharrabang.

By Irena Tasevska Epic Arts, an arts charity supporting deaf and disabled communities in the U.K., Cambodia and China, will embark on a U.K. tour in August to perform its new integrated dance, Sharrabang. Last November, Epic Arts and StopGap Dance from the U.K. worked together to create a 30-minute dance project in Cambodia. The dance was developed over a five-week period and explores identity themes. The six dancers involved come from diverse backgrounds. Kan Sokna is a dancer who is deaf. His physical expression has developed at an increasing speed during this training period and his participation will be his first professional international project. Kathryn Langrish is an untrained dancer from the U.K. who has Down’s Syndrome. A passionate person who loves people, movement and life, she is very excited about being part of this tour. Lay Noth is a Cambodian man

who is deaf and was recently invited to join a professional dance project commissioned by Chisato Minamimura. Puon Nadenh is a talented young Cambodian with a physical disability who works as a performer and facilitator with Epic Arts. He has ambitions to study integrated dance in London. Sot Sopha is deaf and passionate about dance. This will be his first international dance project. Katie Goad, one of the three founders of Epic Arts in the U.K., began Epic Arts in Cambodia in 2003. Before setting up Epic Arts, she trained at Laban Centre and worked with Candoco. The premiere of Sharrabang took place on Nov. 26 at Lyla Lagoon Sports Centre, a contemporary dance venue in Phnom Penh. A medley of dance-theatre, song and story-telling through Khmer sign language, the performance interwove the six dancers’ dreams, frustrations and personal tales. The dancers also held a workshop with students at La Vala School in Phnom Penh, the only school for people with disabilities in Cambodia. The students had the chance to play drama and movement games with the dancers. It was an inspiring and moving day for everyone involved. Following a successful fundraising campaign, the dancers are ready to bring their new dance to the U.K.. Nadenh, a dancer and a former La Vala student, said, “I want people to see that we as deaf or disabled artists can do exactly the same as hearing or non-disabled people. I want people to see ability, not disability.” Irena Tasevska serves as the Communications Coordinator for Epic Arts in Kampot, Cambodia. For more information, please visit

What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do— especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road. – William Least Heat Moon

View DDW’s weekly vlogs Check out DDW’s weekly vlogs at!

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Discovering Deaf Worlds

Shout-Outs! Shout-Outs! Shout-Outs! GlobeMed University of Rochester: Thanks for the opportunity to present at your recent benefit. We are inspired by the work you are doing!

Wade Holdraker: You have gone above and beyond for us once again. Thank you for being a consistently reliable resource to DDW over the years!

Ken Bain: You have been and continue to be much too kind to us. Your work is fantastic and a crucial aspect to promoting what we do. Thank you!

Bob Tobin: How lucky we are to have your counsel. Thank you for offering your time and guidance through this important growing phase of our organization.

amVRS, Julia Silvestri, and Ryan Grant: Thanks for bringing us to NYC. Your sponsorship of this event was extremely generous. Thanks for the opportunity to connect with your community!

Veronica Staehle: Thank you for providing accessibility and contributing to a successful event in New York City! You did a fantastic job!

You are not here merely to make a living. You are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget this errand. – Woodrow Wilson 

EXPERIENCE ETHIOPA & MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF DEAF YOUTH Join us abroad this summer as we support education & empowerment efforts for deserving deaf youth 
 People to People (P2P), a US-based nonprofit committed to building a bridge with Ethiopia, is coordinating a small volunteer group to Addis Ababa, Bahir Dar, & Wollisso, Ethiopia this summer to work with local partner organizations in supporting deaf education efforts and laying the foundation for future projects geared towards mobilizing the deaf community in Ethiopia. We will be volunteering at local deaf schools, visiting with local change-makers leading the way forward for serving the deaf community and creating public awareness, learning about the local culture, and enjoying the cultural beauty and richness of this remarkable place. Join us!

Program Dates: Tuesday, July 31st – Monday, August 13th, 2012 Program Fees: 
 $1,500 per person (all inclusive from arrival until departure; excludes airfare and visa fees) To Apply: Simply fill out the P2P Volunteer Application & Release posted on our website at and return it to us as soon as possible. There is a non-refundable application fee of $50, which will be applied toward your overall program fee. Space is limited, so early applications are encouraged! If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Greg Buie, P2P Chief Operating Officer, at March 2012 7


Discovering Deaf Worlds

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March 2012 newsletter  

This quarter's newsletter brings us stories from DDW Board member Dr. Khadijat Rashid, who shares her perspective on international developm...

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