Zambian Teen Empowers Through Climate Change Education in Sign Language

Zambian Teen Empowers Through Climate
Yakima Herald

Zambian Teen Empowers Through Climate :  In the heart of Zambia, a remarkable narrative unfolds. Bridget Chanda, an 18-year-old with a double amputation, steps forward to champion the cause of climate change awareness using sign language. Despite her own battles, Bridget has embarked on a journey to master sign language, empowering her to interpret lessons at a school where special needs students seamlessly integrate with their peers.

 “When I first arrived, it was a challenge for me. I was unfamiliar with sign language, making communication difficult. But as time passed, I realized that learning sign language was the key to helping my peers. It was my way of bridging the communication gap and fostering a sense of unity among us, “Bridget shares, highlighting the transformative power of inclusivity.

 Elizabeth Motale, a prominent climate change campaigner and agripreneur, deeply admires Bridget’s significant effort in increasing awareness among the special needs pupils. Bridget’s aid in sign language interpretation during Elizabeth’s educational sessions has not only facilitated communication but also significantly contributed to shaping minds within the school community, instilling a sense of hope for a more inclusive future.

 “I deliver these sessions to my community members about climate change. Whenever they faced challenges in terms of rainfall, I taught them how to reserve water so that they could use [it] at that particular moment. I experienced some issues in terms of signing for them, but Bridget typically helps me when I’m delivering sessions. She generally signs for them,” Elizabeth acknowledges Bridget’s pivotal role in her advocacy efforts.

 Despite sign language not yet being officially recognized in Zambia, the government has taken significant steps to rectify this. It has mandated the incorporation of sign language in climate change education, a move that symbolizes a significant stride towards inclusivity and accessibility in communicating crucial information about environmental challenges.

 We still have some teething problems as we improve on how to deliver and cater for the special needs, especially in the hearing in terms of how we correctly deliver this information without diluting the context. And also we’ve got regions where you might have people with special needs, but no one there to properly understand that information, especially at the community level,” remarks Helena Chandwe, emphasizing the ongoing efforts to enhance education and support for individuals with special needs.

 As Zambia grapples with increasingly regular extreme weather events, such as severe droughts, the government understands the importance of integrating comprehensive climate change teaching into the national school curriculum. This proactive approach strives to provide students with the information and skills necessary to confront and mitigate the impacts of climate change in their communities.

 In conclusion, Bridget Chanda’s amazing path emphasizes the power of persistence and compassion in driving positive change. Through her efforts, coupled with the support of activists like Elizabeth Motale and attempts by the Zambian government, gains are being made towards a more inclusive and ecologically conscious society.

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