The vision for our Deaf initiative goes back to 2013, when Cathy Sander met Lungile, a Deaf woman who works at the conference center where our team short-term teams stay. The two women struggled to overcome their language barrier and forged the beginnings of a friendship.
Eswatini has a higher than typical incidence of deafness. One reason for this is the high incidence of HIV infection, which can cause hearing loss . Another reason is that the treatment for tuberculosis, another disease prevalent in Eswatini, causes hearing loss or deafness in about a quarter of those treated .
Most deaf people are not able to communicate effectively even with their own family. Lip reading is not as effective as many hearing people would like to believe,  and few hearing people learn sign language. Thus deafness can be a very isolating condition. But it does not have to be.
CFA's Deaf Initiative is based on the same principles on which it began: overcoming the language barrier in order to build relationships. To that end, we study the local sign language and engage with the Deaf community in Eswatini to learn how best to serve their needs.