Hear Me project brings arts closer to children with disabilities
Fifteen hearing-impaired children developed a comic book, a poster, a T-shirt, and a new short dance piece, which were launched on 1 June at the National Institute of Special Education Namibia (NISE).
The children achieved this with the help of the Ombetja Yehinga Organisation (OYO) and the Bulgarian Development Aid, managed by the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria in South Africa.
Deputy Executive Director of the Ministry of Education, Arts, and Culture, Edda Bohn said the basic idea behind the project is to give a hero to children with hearing difficulties, someone they want to be like.
“Comics in Namibia hardly ever focus on children with disabilities and yet representation matters. It further also promotes literacy in Namibia, because people are still struggling to get learners to read, however, comics are a good medium to promote literacy,” she added.
Director of OYO, Dr. Philippe Talavera said the comic book is only eight pages long but OYO hopes that it can be expanded and it could become 28 pages, even longer.
“We, therefore, hope the project will grow from strength to strength,” he added.
He further explained that the idea behind ‘Hear Me’ is therefore to advocate for more arts education in schools and better access to art projects for children living with disabilities, in particular deaf children.
“The comic book features hearing-impaired heroin, ‘Peace Girl’ and the children decided on the heroin, her name, the symbol representing her, the colours she should wear, and her superpowers, which are the ability to analyze details, a strong sense of balance and the ability to fight. The cartoonist then prepared sketches and the children selected the sketch they liked the most,” said Talavera.
He said that OYO uses the arts because it appeal to people’s emotions rather than to people’s intellect.
“When you watch a piece or a movie, you can be moved. You can laugh, you can cry. You feel for the characters and we strongly believe that if you feel, you are more likely to integrate the message and remember it,” he said. He said it is sad that arts education is not always a priority in Namibia schools, and might even be less of a priority for children living with disabilities
In a statement, Bulgarian Ambassador to Namibia, Maria Tzotzorkova said she is very happy with their achievements and believes that through arts all children, including those with hearing impairment can express themselves freely and equally.
“Art is a universal language and I must say arts can bring all people together,” she added.