Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Mimi stories, AIDS lessons to the hearing-impaired

By Omiko Awa
IT’S no longer news to say that the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) has gained a pandemic status across the globe, especially, among the less developed and developing countries, where people still depend on superstition and access to information as well as Medicare is low.
   It is in making sure that adequate information and awareness on the dreaded disease are passed to the hearing impaired, which many a time, policy makers are often not remembered when packaging and disseminating health care messages such as HIV/AIDS and others, that made Leadership With New Dimensions (LeND) to prepare Mimi Stories, to pass on the information about the disease.     
   The book is a short account of a girl, Mimi, who learns about the killer Human Immune Deficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome HIV/AIDS from her uncle and father, and decides to pass on the information to her peers and others, so that, they would not contact it.
   Published this year by LeND with the support of Youth Empowerment Foundation (YEF), the activities filled book is specifically designed for children and adolescents, particularly those who are hearing impaired, to learn about the dreaded disease, its transmission, prevention and the importance of care and support for those already living with it.
   HIV/AIDS remains a huge burden in our society and it’s imperative that children and adolescents have an idea of its spread, ways of prevention and importantly how they can help reduce the discrimination and stigma associated with it.
  Mimi Stories with its illustrations and follow up assignments of the story lines would enable any reader, especially those who are hearing impaired, to easily grasp the subject aside from offering basic simple sign language lessons for every normal bodied person to learn, appreciate and be able to communicate with the hearing impaired.
   Speaking on behalf of LeND, Eunice Eso, said, the book was developed because her organisation found that young adults don’t understand the complexity of HIV/AIDS and to bring that to them, they decided to put it in simple form for them to comprehend and relate with. “The book is very interactive and comes with colorful illustrations that the kids could relate with. It’s written from the perspective of an eight-year old relating a story of things learnt, which also encourages peers education. The presence of the parents and adults in it also allows for parent-child communication.”
   She informed that Wesley School for the Hearing Impaired, has been chosen for the pre-launch because the inspiration to write the book started from the school through a seminar that was held here.
 “The concept was got from the school. We found out that these group of people because of their disability, get easily distracted than the able-bodied children, but one thing that keeps them on focus are images, so we tried to play on that by giving them something colorful that they could draw and share with their friends.”
  “Apart from that, we have sign language in it. We want people to learn simple communicating signs that would enable able-bodied people to chat with these children with ease. Communication is a very difficult thing and people believe that the hearing-impaired children are very aggressive, but the truth is; if you can come to their level and learn their language, it would make them excited and relate freely with you,” she added.
   Eunice informed that the volume II of the book would talk about contemporary issues that affect the youth.
“We want this book to be the first thing on AIDS and later, we will look at issues such as productive health, climate change and others that affect the youths.”

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