Deaf Initiative

group photo of church

Deaf Church Eswatini

One of the most important ministries is our involvement with the Deaf Church Eswatini. In 2020, our missionaries were invited to serve on the pastoral team for the Deaf Church. They share in the duties of preaching, teaching, and discipling in the church.

Village ESL program

In October 2022, CFA began funding the Village ESL program. This program was started by Fanelo Zikhali, a Deaf ESL teacher and CFA volunteer. The program addresses a critical need for ESL instruction among Deaf adults who have never had the opportunity to attend school. As a consequence, they are completely without language. The Village ESL program is bringing the opportunity for language acquisition and communication to the village of Sigombeni. Other villages are scheduled to be added to the program in time.

Interpreting and other services

Difficulties in communication between Deaf and hearing people have led to what we call a state of “information poverty” in the emaSwati Deaf community. CFA missionaries have done what they can to stand in the gap, providing emergency interpreting services for Deaf people with emergent or urgent medical needs, organizing a vaccine clinic during COVID-19, and assisting with the creation of curriculum vitae, cover letters, and other documents necessary for employment or tertiary school applications.

Sign Language advocacy

We believe that a fully inclusive society is one in which all people, hearing and Deaf, are fluent in sign language. As such, we constantly advocate in churches, schools, businesses, NGOs, and government offices, encouraging them to seek out instruction in Eswatini Sign Language. We do not teach sign language, but we will gladly refer you to a qualified Deaf instructor.

History of CFA’s work in the Deaf community

In 2019, CFA’s full-time missionaries Michael & Catharine Sander began studying Eswatini Sign Language (ESL). While working through the three-part program, they met and developed relationships with members of the Eswatini Deaf community. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, CFA furnished food parcels to members of the Deaf community with the cooperation of the National Organization of the Deaf in Eswatini and through the agency of Deaf volunteers who arranged for distributions at local government offices. In September 2020, they were invited to join the pastoral team of the Blissville Church for the Deaf in Eswatini (now known as Deaf Church Eswatini).