Teopista's teachers say she is a sweet, affectionate child and a joy to be around.
She is almost 10, and hasn't yet been able to go to school for a reason that's hard to comprehend in Australia.
She is deaf.
Because of her profound deafness, Teopista hasn't been able to communicate with her family.
In Uganda it is estimated there are two million Ugandan children who have been excluded from Uganda’s education system simply because they have special needs.
Because the illiteracy rate amongst adults is at 78%, parents of special needs children simply don’t understand why their children are developmentally or physically delayed. Instead of fighting for their children’s rights, children with special needs are often hidden away out of sight - for fear of stigmatization, shame and rejection from the community.
Even though Teopista lives within 2kms of our school grounds, her parents haven't sent her to school because she isn't able to communicate with them.
At School for Life, we have trained teachers who cater for a variety of our special needs children.
Our special needs teacher Joseph is himself deaf, and is therefore perfectly suited to educate Teopista, and to teach her and her parents how to sign so that Teopista is able to communicate with her family, her friends and our teachers.
We have been able to find all the Lugandan (the local Ugandan language) sign language tools in Uganda so that we can provide signing charts to Teopista's parents to also help her learn at home. We are also teaching all students and teachers how to sign, so that the entire school community is able to communicate with Teopista.
The video below shows Teopista communicating good morning in Lugandan sign language.