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A legacy of building bridges for deaf children – CLaSH closes offices after 32 years of services

A legacy of building bridges for deaf children –  CLaSH closes offices after 32 years of services

The Association for Children with Language, Speech and Hearing Impairments of Namibia (CLaSH) has closed their offices after 32 years of services to the community.

The organisation leaves a legacy of refined programmes and educational approaches for children with severe hearing loss, a new fully donor-funded Early Intervention Centre which has been handed over to the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture and the recently founded CLaSH Trust which will play a supportive role in the future.

Wolfgang Keding, Chairman of the CLaSH Board explained the new structure and said as, from 1 January, the organisation has been converted to the CLaSH Trust, therefore CLaSH will then no longer be an active service provider but the emphasis will be on supporting projects, in particular assisting the Early Intervention Centre.

“We sincerely hope that with the registration of the Trust we have found a way to ensure that children with hearing loss and their families are still given as much support as possible,” emphasised Keding.

Specialised Teacher for Hearing and Speech Impaired Children, Heide Beinhauer, was among the founding members who started CLaSH in 1989, she is now retiring and the CLaSH Board could not identify a replacement, locally or internationally.

“If you want to improve lives and opportunities for hearing impaired people in a sustainable and lasting manner, you need to start as early as possible,” said Beinhauer.

She said children with hearing impairments are often in conflict with the hearing world around them and at CLaSH they always aspired to build bridges between deaf children and society.

“It is the hope of all of us who paved the way so far, that the Ministry recognises the incredible gift they have received in form of the Early Intervention Centre, because, sustainably integrating this unique ECD facility into the Government School for the Deaf is key to recognising the value and potential of young hearing-impaired children in Namibia,” said Beinhauer.

Longest-serving Board Member, Sem Shikongo said it was a privilege and a humbling opportunity to serve as a CLaSH Board Member for 20 years.

“This little organisation was amazing in its accountability, transparency and work ethos, they always had the individual child in mind, the ecosystem of the child, the inclusive integration and mainstream well being of those who live in a world of perpetual silence, ClaSH worked tirelessly and against the odds,” said Shikongo.

Furthermore, he said ClaSH made a change and made a way for many children and their families where there seemed to be no way. “What an honour to have been part of this unique and humbling experience, Thank you, CLaSH on behalf of the many Namibian hearts and ears that you have touched,” added Shikongo.

One of the eight deaf children currently attending the Early Intervention Centre, Diana Manyati has benefited from specialised early education and gets the chance to learn, long before being accommodated by the formal education system. She was among the first children attending the CLaSH Pre-School and Day Care Unit and 150 young deaf children have since benefited from the combination of early Deaf Education and Montessori principles.


About The Author

Mandisa Rasmeni

Mandisa Rasmeni has worked as reporter at the Economist for the past five years, first on the entertainment beat but now focussing more on community, social and health reporting. She is a born writer and she believes education is the greatest equalizer. She received her degree in Journalism at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) in June 2021. . She is the epitome of perseverance, having started as the newspaper's receptionist in 2013.