PROFILE OF AL-WAAGAH
Al-Waagah, formerly known as Oasis Deaf Society, was established in July 1995. Initially there were 10 registered students. In 1998 the name was changed to Al Waagah Madrassah for the Deaf.
In 2004 the Al Waagah Islamic Institute for the Deaf was established to look after the administration, social issues, job creation etc. to allow the Madrassah to focus on the Islamic education and empowerment.
To date (May 2011) we have approximately 200 registered students from all over Cape Town. There is a regular attendee tally of ± 150 students.
HISTORY OF DEAF EDUCATION
Prior to the establishing of an organization as Al-Waagah the Deaf Muslim community was subjected to the ethos of Christianity for over 60 years at the Dominican School for Deaf children situated in Wynberg and De La Bat in Worcester. These were the only schools available for the deaf in the Western Cape.
No provision was made for the Islamic education of the deaf and has led to great confusion as to their Muslim identity and their deen. We must also understand that the main problem that exists for the deaf is that spoken English is very difficult to learn as it depends largely on sounds. This results in difficulty with written English as well.
- Due to the large geographical area that we cater for, and the fact that the deaf in the larger Cape Town area are from the poor community, we are compelled to send transport to collect and drop all the students off every Sunday. Without the transport the Madrassah would not exist.
- We basically have to provide the deaf with language BEFORE we are able to teach Islamic subjects.
- Arabic text is therefore extremely difficult to teach.
- We only have 2 hours per week which is not enough to teach language, life skills and Islamic education.
- No sign language interpreters in mosques or Islamic Institutions and therefore the deaf has no access to any services provided to Muslims e.g. Nikaah, Talaaq etc.
- No access to welfare organizations due to the communication problems.
The Vision of Al-Waagah is to empower all Muslims with hearing disabilities, with the necessary knowledge and skills in order for them to become happy, self sustaining, well balanced, confident, and practicing Muslims. Coupled to that, also to try and integrate them into society with the dignity and respect that each individual deserves. We also strive to eliminate the negative stigmatism attached to the language of the Deaf
The objectives of the organization are as follows:
- To provide a support structure for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in the greater Western Cape.
- To provide Islamic Knowledge in Sign Language and Total Communication
- To bridge the communication gap between the Deaf and Hearing community
- To establish a centre that will host a dormitory, early childhood intervention and secular school with Islamic Ethos, recreation hall, social and welfare and skills development.
- To provide for early childhood development in Islam for the Deaf and hard of hearing children.
- Empower professional and skilled individuals in the language of the Deaf.
- Sign Language classes targeting the Hearing family members of the Deaf, the Ulema (religious learned people) professionals as in Drs. Lawyers etc. and all people who are interested in learning Sign Language to gain a better understanding of the Deaf language and culture.
- To eliminate the stigmatism that is trailing the Deaf person as being “deaf and dumb”
The organization is fortunate to have the following committed businesses and individuals rendering a service by way of transport, they are Mr. Ismail of Peoples Transport and Mr. M Davids of Wardrobe in Wynberg. Collectively they provide the transport of over 120 learners to and from Madrassah every week with no cost involved. These services have been provided for since 1997 algamdulillah.
Madrassah fees from the learners are not compulsory, due to the socio-economic background of most of our learners. Therefore we depend on entirely on the generosity on the Muslim community for their donations, Sadakah and Zakaah for our continued survival.
We host 2 – 3 functions a year in order to raise funds to meet salaries of teachers and staff, rental and other administrative costs.
The needs of Al-Waagah are as follows:
- Financial Support from the community.
- Venue conducive to the above mentioned objectives and vision.
- Qualified teachers / Ulema that is capable of developing and implementing a curriculum
that will holistically benefit the Deaf
- Counselors that is able to communicate in Sign Language
- Volunteers to share their expertise and assist us to achieve our goals
- Recognition and Support of the Community at large
- Ulema willing to learn sign language