Deaf joiner joins in new project

Deaf joiner joins in new project

Work starts on new centre for people with disabilities in Tanzania

Photo: Carpenter Alan helps ready a new centre for people with disabilities in Usa River, Tanzania

Ben and Katy Ray are based in Tanzania, working with people with disabilities, providing training so they can earn a living. They recently moved from Neema Crafts to start new projects near Arusha – and a former colleague is joining in!

by Ben and Katy Ray

We’ve been on quite a journey seeking the right place to base our work. We’re now excited about the place we’ve finally settled on, a simple half-acre plot with two small buildings, one of which used to be the old post office.

But what we love about it is its proximity to the town centre and the hubbub of normal Tanzanian life.

No sooner had we signed the lease than the council literally redirected an important road to run past our entrance – it seems like a confirmation that we’re in the right place for now.

Recruiting talent

Alan Chapotte is the talented deaf carpenter who helped Neema Crafts create its first custom furniture.

We’d been speaking to him for some time about helping us to kick start our carpentry programme up here and so we were grateful when he made the move north a couple of months ago. While not yet having a workshop, he’s been busy using his practical skills to help us set up the new centre. 

We’re so pleased Alan has found a good church to attend that has an excellent sign interpreter. Alan has also supported us to connect with the local deaf community.

Work in demand

It says something about the size of the deaf population and the lack of employment that we’ve already received numerous application forms in just the couple of weeks we’ve been here. We even had one applicant come all the way from Nairobi, Kenya, to see us! 

We look forward to seeing Alan take the lead on a new carpentry project and train new deaf and disabled recruits.

Please pray with us that our small workshop would soon be connected to the three-phase electricity supply and be equipped with the machinery and resources it needs.

The bigger picture

Ben and Katy are working with the NGO SAFI Tanzania to promote livelihoods for people with disabilities. Safi means pure, and also “great” in Kiswahili slang, they explain. It also stands for See Ability First International.

SAFI aims to start collaborative projects with other organisations across Tanzania. One example is with the Rural Development Organisation (RDO) in Mufindi, in the south of Tanzania. They’re training local people how to make the most of the natural clay deposits in that area.

SAFI has begun sponsoring two deaf trainees, Maneno and Magdelena, to learn how to create ceramic products with one of Tanzania’s most experienced potters. Ben and Katy hope that at the end of the six-month course, Maneno and Magdelena will be able to start their own business, producing a new range of ceramic items for sale through the SAFI outlets and elsewhere.

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