About 2 hours outside of Cape Town on the other side of the massive Stettyns mountain range, the National Institute for the Deaf (NID) is nestled in the retreat-like Breede River Valley town of Worcester. According to the 2011 World Congress of the Federation of the Deaf, it is estimated that about 600,000 South Africans are profoundly Deaf. Another 1.4 million have some kind of hearing loss (hard of hearing). The Institute, having recently celebrated its 130 year anniversary, is dedicated to providing education, development, training, social services, and spiritual care to empower South Africa’s persons with hearing loss to reach their full potential.
Deon de Villiers, the Executive Director of NID, is a retired university professor who’s dedicated his life to helping people reach for their potential. During the past 10 years of Deon’s tenure as Executive Director, the National Institute for the Deaf has experienced fantastic growth in its services and programs.
This is a supplies room for one of the integrated programs. Here, materials for crafts are sorted for use by the the residents of the on-site assisted living facility – Shalom – and the residents of the on-site mini-village – Lewensruimte (translated as “living space”) – for development and care of the multi-disabled adult Deaf persons.
Residents build crafts items both recreationally and vocationally depending upon skill levels.
Some crafts are then sold to vendors across the country and others are destined for the Institute’s market. NID’s Deaf Market Craft Shop is not only a distribution point for items but also an employer and training ground for Deaf persons.
The National Institute for the Deaf maintains several business units which provide occupational training and income from the sales of goods and services. Building Blocks, a brick-making operation, provides vocational skills for NID students as well as building supplies for NID construction projects.
I.T. skills are a central part of NID’s student’s curriculum.
Culinary skills are a part of the Hospitality studies curriculum. The Tea Garden is NID’s on-site restaurant and catering business.
The Upholstery program helps students develop vocational skills.
Deaf women and girls are particularly vulnerable members of the community where unemployment of the deaf is around 93% – nearly three times the national unemployment average. Deaf females are perceived as “lucky” because they have a vocation open to them: prostitution. NID’s College and Business Training Units provide a world of alternatives for Deaf women to achieve self-sufficiency.
Christine is instructing students in the Cosmetics and Beauty program. Here, students not only learn salon and spa procedures but also how to set up and manage their own businesses.
As students gain in skills, they do their practical work at NID’s Salon. Different treatments are offered to the public and this is where students get their first exposure to the public.
Making knowledge accessible is an important part of NID’s mission. Deon displays one of the satellite dishes that provides the backbone of NID’s DeafNET which uses international networks and technology to allow access to knowledge, training, and expertise to Deaf persons and their families across Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands.
One of NID’s programs is a seminary that provides occupational training for Deaf ministers. The Deaf Christian Ministry Africa is a four-year program with curriculum components in Theological Knowledge, Spiritual Growth, Personal Development, and Skills Development. Deaf ministers not only provide spiritual guidance and care for their congregations but are also often called upon to provide leadership in practical skills and life skills.
Many ministers will serve in remote and rural parts of Africa and be called upon to impart everything from business development skills to self-sufficiency expertise. NID recreates some of the rural conditions to help candidates acquire skills such as farming and bread baking. Here are a couple of bread ovens which might be built and used to support a congregation.
Anthony is a 3rd year ministerial candidate from Swaziland. He describes his anticipation of his return to his homeland and being able to share hope and services for the Deaf. He comments that there are no services for the Deaf in Swaziland at this time and how much he is looking forward to helping people come to know God.
Anthony’s curiosity was piqued when he learned that Heidi was visiting at NID to teach fundraising skills. He said that he felt that was very similar to what was called for in the ministry: teaching people how to provide for themselves and encouraging self-sufficiency. He was ready to learn more!
By adding continuing education programs and enterprising business units under the auspices of NID, the Institute developed its earned income from 0% to 55% of the annual operating revenues. However, the rapidly changing environment requires constant evaluation.
Today, the Institute must build sustainable and reliable sources of contributions to replace government funding which, at one time, provided more than 30% of the organization’s annual operating funds. Additionally, NID needs to develop new funding sources to alleviate the dependence on the uncertain and unreliable distributions from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund. Finally, NID must be able to reliably forecast its contributed revenues so it can plan for the maintenance and expansion of its facilities to meet the needs of the Deaf community.
Heidi met with Deon de Villiers and Sikelelwa Alex Msitshana. Alex suffered an illness-related loss of her hearing in 2008 and now uses her skills in proposal writing and international project management as a Corporate Social Investment Facilitator for NID. Heidi used Fundraising Coaching to share examples of strategies to focus fundraising techniques and activities during a critical time to uncover potential sources of transformative funds. The National Institute for the Deaf is a complex and entrepreneurial organization that provides critically needed services, support, and programs. By applying the same strategic entrepreneurial focus to its fundraising efforts as it uses in its business development, the National Institute for the Deaf can not only survive the economic shifts but also thrive.