Zawadi's Story


Starting at Neema in 2006 meant starting to depend on myself. I don't have a husband, I live alone, although I do have a six-year-old child who lives with my mother. She encouraged me to apply for a job here and I now work in the kitchen making cakes and paninies. I support her, my father, my little sister and my child, so money's still tight. But I do enjoy the work and being with my friends. I'm a much happier person than I was before.

I lost my hearing when I was 18. I don't know how it happened, but everything changed from that point. I used to cry for days and I had to have someone there to translate for me all the time, which of course, wasn't always easy. I'm not profoundly deaf, but communication was still really difficult and I felt people were laughing at me. Learning sign language was also a challenge and often I felt so frustrated.

After a few weeks of getting integrated at Neema, my sign language improved and I realised I was able to speak with some deaf relatives we have. I began to make friends who were also deaf and they helped me learn more.

I love cooking and I'd like to study it at college one day if I can. I've also got some of the other workers into dancing, my favourite hobby, and we've put together a music and dance group. We write our own dances and we've visited U.K to perform for people there and also in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar. I do it by feeling the vibrations from the drums and the marimba and I've taught others to do the same. The musicians then play in time with us, instead of the other way round.