Very tough times for Malita

Smiling Malita

After lunch we leave Ramos, Witness, Joyce, Gift and Kattie with our camera and we spend some time with Stuart and another teacher to seriously talk about Malita.

Malita was able to learn the sign language and she can finally take very good care of herself. She was  also able to establish good relationship with people and students within the school, where she really feels at home. Apart from that, in these last 3 years she did not make any progress, rather the opposite… According to Stuart she has all the characteristics of a very slow learner. He consulted his colleagues from the school for people with this kind of disability on this during this past year. On paper they agree with him, but in practice they were not able to do anything for Malita, since she can’t hear nor talk and they are not trained for sign language. At Bandawe they have tried to stimulate her by passing her to a class (Primary 5) which is much higher than her level (she was complaining she was too old for lower classes). However, she absolutely can’t keep up. She can’t even write properly, since she is mixing up the letters, exactly like someone with dyslexia. They solved the puzzle by keeping her in the class she wanted to be in, but giving her different assignments, more suitable to her capabilities. Despite this she is struggling a lot.

Since learning was not working, they have also tried to teach her ‘vocational skills’, a profession which could ensure her a living. Unfortunately they did not have much luck. Malita has a very short attention span. If criticised, she just gives up and walks away. She quickly failed carpentry and tailoring. She can’t keep up with the concentration, precision and complexity of these activities. She can knit a bit, but not too well. Now they are trying with pottery too.

At Bandawe they are definitely trying to do all what is within their possibilities (and maybe even more), but Stuart’s main concern is another one. Any progress Malita makes while at school is completely gone if she goes home in Nkhata Bay even for just a week. Reality is that no one knows exactly what happens to her while there. Stuart and Frighton take turns to visit her at least twice a week, but still this is not sufficient. They come there with plenty of grocery for Malita, but they moment they leave, everything is gone and Malita sees none of it. Her mother takes it all. She also doesn’t care about what Malita does during the day and she is left wandering off alone through the different villages. Frighton had to go and look her up more than once after dark. This is definitely too dangerous for a girl of her age and condition, especially considering she is not able to tell where she went or what she did. On top of this, no one makes sure Malita takes her HIV medications while in Nkhata Bay and this complicates things even further. They have tried to keep Malita at school at least during part of the school holidays, but then suddenly her mother came to claim her (or better to claim her grocery and belongings). In these cases they could not refuse to send her home…

The situation is really really complicated and seeing Malita like this is literally heartbreaking. We don’t want to give up on her, but we also can’t deny the futures doesn’t look so brilliant at all…To be continued…

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