February 14, 2021 | Sunday

ReLOaD Kosovo: Support for the people with hearing impairment in Kamenicë/a

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear, and the blind can see”, said Mark Twain. This simple, wise sentence could easily describe the efforts of so many activists in Kosovo who are tirelessly working to create solutions for better living conditions for those who feel socially excluded. 

Numerous initiatives aimed at supporting socially vulnerable groups were implemented in Kosovo as a part of the Regional Programme on Local Democracy in the Western Balkans (ReLOaD). Support for persons in need, through strengthening cooperation between local governments and civil society organizations, was one of the ReLOaD’s main objectives.

One of these initiatives was implemented by the organization “Education Code” in Kamenicë/a. Project “Understand my silence” aimed to build the capacities, support, and promote the needs and requirements of young people with disabilities, respectively people with hearing impairment in Kamenicë/a municipality. The main goal was to provide greater access to the community, public and administrative services, for the  youth with hearing impairment, to identify the number of this community in the municipality, to support and advocate for improved communication between parents and their deaf children, and finally – to raise awareness on this issue and to promote the needs of people with disabilities. 

The idea was to build the bridges of communication between parents and their children, brothers, sisters, and friends, through sign language learning, and raising the capacities of the deaf community by language literacy learning of the majority community language in Albanian.  As a part of this initiative, more than 30 parents from different ethnic backgrounds living in the municipality of Kamenicë/a, participated in a five-day sign language training that contributed to improving communication with their children with hearing impairment. The 29 individuals from this community have increased their capacities from the language literacy training conducted in Albanian language. Furthermore, the Language Book and Sign Language Book in Albanian have been created for the persons with hearing impairment community, and the interest in these books was very high including persons who did not participate in the organized training.

The sign language instructor, Mr. Përparim Haziri, believes that this training is very important for people who have hearing impairment family members or friends, and he was very pleased to be a part of this programme.

“I am an assistant and instructor of sign language, which means I have completed all the trainings and now I can teach skills related to sign language. This type of training is very important for improving family communication, and it also enabled me to create an experience in relation to what I have learned so far”, said Mr.Haziri.

Director of the CSO “Education Code” Ms. Mimoza K. Stanovci, says that this initiative started considering the demands and needs of this specific community throughout Kosovo, in terms of limited access to society and institutions. This project, says Ms. Stanovci, aims to increase the capacities within hearing impairment community, which does not have all the necessary support from either institutions or CSOs. 

The project “Understand my silence” was implemented in partnership with the municipality of Kamenicë/a, and the support of UNDP and the European Union.

“We have found great support in the municipality of Kamenicë/a, where the mayor Mr. Qëndron Kastrati welcomed all our suggestions and offered his support enabling us to hold the training within the premises of the municipality”, said Ms. Stanovci.

In addition, Education Code agreed with the Municipality, through a Memorandum of Understanding, to employ a sign language interpreter and to establish a sub-department within the municipality of Kamenicë/a for people with hearing impairment. With all these achievements, Education Code wants to breakdown the communication barriers in order to guarantee a more inclusive social life in the community.

Taking into consideration that realization of this project was possible thanks to the ReLOaD support, as a crown to their efforts, in December 2020, the CSO Education Code received good news – their project was awarded the “Intercultural Achievement Award 2020”.

“I would like to thank all those who supported the project, who have made their precious contributions to the successful implementation of this initiative – UNDP and EU for financial support, Kamenicë/a municipality, and especially the Mayor for his unconditional assistance, and of course – our wonderful team who made it possible”, said Ms. Stanovci.

Apart from Kamenicë/a, civil society organizations and local governments in Istog/k, Lipjan/Lipljan, Viti/Vitina, and Zveçan/Zvečan participated in the ReLOaD programme. From the beginning of 2017 until the end of 2020, citizens across Kosovo had a chance to choose initiatives that will improve the quality of life in their communities.

Civil society organizations and local government in these five communities joined their capacities to improve cooperation and dialogue which resulted in the implementation of 42 projects contributing to social and environmental protection, women empowerment, and strengthening of youth and socially marginalized groups.

The Regional Programme on Local Democracy in the Western Balkans (ReLOaD) is funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). As a regional three-year initiative, the ReLOaD project is implemented in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia.