Last week with a small team of three we inducted newly arrived VSO Mongolia international volunteers in mainstreaming disability, as part of their In-Country Training (ICT). Nickson Kakiri led the session, making good use of MS powerpoint to outline the situation for People With Disabilities (PWDs) internationally, in the developing world, and in Mongolia. We built on any fragments of existing experience of the volunteers with a discussion about models of development based on one hand, on medical 'defects', and on the other, on social exclusion.
The mainstreaming idea is that disability is integral to all VSO's work on poverty and disadvantage, spanning all our volunteering programmes and internal activities, here and internationally. A Mongolian sign-language interpreter came to assist for the presentation, but although Nickson is deaf and mute he is experienced in communicating fluently with non-signing English-language hearing people. There were some points of sign language clarification between Nickson in American Sign Language and Sainaa in Mongolian Sign Language, and Sophie van den Abeele (a trainer for Mongolian parents of children with disabilities) and I both added our Mongolia experiences to the discussion. The session pointed out the literature in the area and seemed to set a constructive tone for the volunteers.
A week later, I attended my first signing workshop, attended by workers in the deaf community, volunteers, a programme manager and the VSO country director. I learned many sign language terms and greetings, and learned some interesting new things about oralism, gossip, body language and clear communication.