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Deaf persons trained on HIV prevention

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The National Aids Coordinating Agency (NACA) has collaborated with Botswana Association of the Deaf (BOAD) to explore alternative ways to getting HIV/AIDS education to the deaf community in a way that accommodates their needs.

Nearly 400 000 people in Botswana live with HIV with an estimated prevalence rate of 22.8 percent. Prevention efforts that target HIV- related risk behaviours remain the most effective method of lowering incidence rates and the objective cannot be achieved without sufficient information reaching all members of the community. However, over the years not so much HIV prevention interventions have been made towards integrating deaf persons. With a variety of languages and communication styles employed among people who are deaf, it is important to understand which communication style would be most suitable to the targeted population.

BOAD hopes to develop effective HIV prevention intervention programmes to meet the urgent and unique needs of those who are deaf and hard of hearing. As is true of any culture there are features of deaf culture that can both challenge and support the implementation of HIV prevention interventions. Therefore, community based organisations and peer education of the deaf by the deaf are likely to be an advantageous avenue to use in the development and dissemination of HIV prevention interventions that target persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Deaf Federation of South Africa national director, Bruno Druchen who is consulting on this project shared that, amongst other things, the initiative aims to educate the deaf persons about HIV/AIDS as they have been missing on previous messages in the public domain because those campaigns were not designed to accommodate their needs. Druchen said that to date, all empirically validated HIV prevention interventions have relied on communication strategies designed for people who can hear and read spoken language. Therefore, understanding and developing effective prevention methods is crucial for persons who are deaf.

He explained that the main risk factor for HIV infection for deaf people is the lack of access to information. Deaf people, he said, face an information gap at the prevention stage in that one needs proper information in order to know how to avoid infection and deaf persons cannot understand the language used in the mainstream – mass information systems. He indicated that the limited knowledge of how HIV is transmitted may contribute to increased vulnerability to HIV infections among persons who are deaf and hard of hearing.

Selected deaf participants were pulled from different places across the country to be trained as trainers who will then go to their respective villages to educate other deaf community members on HIV/AIDS issues in conjunction with their district health teams.

Druchen indicated that the aim is to have peer-counselors by the deaf to the deaf, where a deaf person will communicate with another deaf person using the language that they both can understand and offer support to one another. Sign language interpreters were also trained on the code of ethics, the behaviour and professionalism of interpreters as these are the people that assist communication flow between the health service providers and the deaf persons. Druchen emphasised that interpreters should understand that their role is to relay the message and not to talk on behalf of the deaf person(s).

He stated that since confidentiality is a key issue in HIV prevention, some clinics and testing centres may not be equipped to deal with deaf persons and hard of hearing persons as they rarely have health care providers who are fluent in sign language and interpreting services are not easily available when needed. This may further marginalise deaf and hard of hearing persons and their access to education on HIV/AIDS, HIV testing and other health issues may be impeded, he warned.

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‘My life is a living hell’

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A Zimbabwean double amputee, Gift Ncube who received a lot of public sympathy after a farmer, Keitumetse Khunou shot him in 2013 over a payment dispute thereafter losing both arms, says that his life is a living hell.

This is because his former employer, Khonuo has not honoured terms of agreement to compensate him for his lost arms. As of September 2017, the two through their lawyers agreed on an out of court settlement in which Khonou undertook to give him 20 goats and eight heads of cattle to start a new life. Khunou, through his lawyers K. Sekgabo Attorneys further proposed to transfer his rights and title in respect of his only residential house consisting of a two-bedroom house, main house with two rooms, toilet bath and a kitchen situated at Radisele.

They also agreed that they were going to pay, Ncube a sum of P100 000, which was proposed to be paid on or before the end of May 2018. However, Ncube through his lawyers, Chibanda Makgelemele & Co said May was far and proposed end of February 2018, which was accepted.

At one point, the parties agreed to pay P125 000 from the initial P130 000 demanded by Ncube, but Khunou’s lawyers said he could pay him P22 000 per month commencing December 1, 2017.
Narrating his story, Ncube cut a frustrated figure. “I now knock on people’s doors, asking for money to buy food. This is not who I am and who I had thought I’d be at any point in my life. This man has destroyed my life and I’m finding it hard to accept that I don’t have my hands,” he said.

He stated that Khunou’s lawyers had told him that their client was not cooperative. “They even told me to seek the assistance of the media,” he said, adding that life is hard as he has a three year old daughter to look after.

As of May 7, 2018, the parties went to the High Court where there was also another settlement made regarding compensation. Khunou signed to give Ncube his plot in Radisele, with its two houses. The agreement was that should he fail to procure transfer of the property to Ncube through the Landboard, then he shall within six months of failure to procure transfer cause it to be sold at a price to be agreed by both parties and the proceeds shall be paid to Ncube.

The agreement also entailed eight cows and 20 goats, and P130 000 payment in installments of P5 470 per month commencing March 31, 2018 until May 1, 2020. The court papers have the certificate of Customary Court Grant, which is yet to be given to Ncube.

The shooting incident happened at Khunou’s ploughing field at Diphateng lands near Radisele where he had temporarily engaged Ncube to de-bush his field.Meanwhile, Ncube said he has opened an account with a local bank where he wanted to save money for Myo-electric prosthesis. Quotations from Gaborone Private Hospital show that he needs P172 500 to get it done. The system consists of wrist insert, wrist/elbow unit, functional hand, prosthetic glove, cable above elbow, harness above elbow and prosthetic sheath.

Khunou’s lawyer Kgololesego Segabo confirmed that there was a settlement agreed that was signed between his client and Ncube. “What is left is for my client to act on the agreement. He is in the process of mobilising resources to honour the agreement,” he said.

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G-west community reunion-walk a resounding success

Keletso Thobega

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Multitudes turned up for the Mosengwaketsi community walk and braai session this past Saturday in Gaborone West. The walk was held in the morning and was preceded by football games and a braai session that went on until late in the evening.

According to the event director Tshenolo Palai, the aim of the community day event was to revive community spirit and address crime and social ills. “The Mosengwaketsi community reunion will be held not only to create a platform to build unity but also address the social ill of passion killings,” he said.

Palai said that they had also invited health stakeholders for a wellness segment because they had realised that there are many health related conditions that affect the quality of people’s lives hence they had joined forces with religious organisations, the business community, neighbourhood outreach policing and other stakeholders in the area to encourage a culture of unity and create dialogue between all the parties.

He noted that they had wanted to create a relaxed environment conducive for different people to engage and strengthen their networks. He said they were also concerned with the high rate of crimes of passion in Botswana and also wanted to create a platform for both men and women to open up on issues that affect them because most people tend to be more relaxed in a social setting.

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