Say Cheese!

Echo Park Camp for Deaf and Blind from Loreto Mission and Jairos Jiri Center, Gwelo.

Sister Assumpta and Mom flank Guides from Loreto Mission and students from Jairos Jiri Center including the Deaf and Blind at their first camp at Echo Park. African Guider Florence Chileshe from Amaveni Township and Coloured Guider Rosina Rensberg from Selukwe and four senior African Guides saw to the smooth running of this special camp.

Say Cheese!

A Girl Guide camp at Echo Park including deaf and blind Guides was quite a challenge.

Say Cheese! 

Mom was not deterred.  Help came from many directions especially Rotary and Lions Clubs.  Welfare busses provided transport. Farmers donated funds and precious firewood. Experienced patrol-leaders were in charge of each patrol.  Blind and deaf youngsters were mixed together.  The exuberant deaf guides had to show patience walking their blind companions to the washrooms and toilets, to the horseshoe for the presentation of colors and prayers in the mornings and to meals. One felt compassion for the other. The ordinary folk felt very humble seeing such happiness and joy all about them.

Both the blind and the deaf helped pitch tents, stir the mealie meal porridge bubbling away in the huge black dixies or the delicious goat stew simmering gently away on the open round fire.  They washed the cabbages, a popular vegetable with Africans, buttered the bread and spread it with spira-jira jam, helped wash up the dishes after meals and sang.  The blind Guides were always singing, their lovely voices harmonizing so beautifully.

Campfires were something special for all.  There were heaps of action songs, the deaf picking up the rhythm from the vibration of the earth and hand clapping motions.  They did their own kind of singing, truly poignant. The Loreto girls were a special help to the Gwelo deaf, who did not have the benefit of teaching from the specially trained nuns.

The blind children from Jairos Jiri always sang their special song:

Thank you God for saving my soul

Thank you God for making me whole

before taps.  Mom had difficulty holding back tears.

Mom never learned to use a camera.  Dad occasionally obliged to record a special event.  When he arrived at the first camp for the handicapped, Mom quickly gathered the troop for a picture.  He would not stay long.  Dad stepped back so as to include everyone, decided on the f stop, focus and so on.  Finally he was ready.  “Say cheese!” he called out.  Of course all the blind guides complied while the deaf guides looked solemnly on!

That’s how the first annual event got recorded.

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