Hearing loss is thought to be the most common type of disability in children in Malawi.
Studies are so few and far between. There are massive gaps in population knowledge, patterns and causes. A study in 2016 with over 300 HIV positive children, found that 24% had a hearing impairment.
There are many deaf members of the community surrounding Fisherman’s, who live isolated lives with complex additional needs, with little access to language and communication.
Children born today see services improving in Malawi, but for deaf adults there is and was no such thing as hearing aids or family support. These people navigate challenges that we cannot even begin to consider.
But one man, with the biggest smile you have ever seen, has become a key part of his community, in fact, we’d go as far as to say an inspiration through tree planting.
Mr Fred James was born deaf, he has never been able to speak or understand a verbal language. He hasn't even had access to sign language, instead he and his family have fashioned their own version of sign language and communicate in a very beautiful and unique way.
Being unable to communicate well beyond family and friends, he has never had a job or independence to work. Around his village there simply weren't any jobs or something of the sort happening.
But then the Tree Project started.
And he has been the driving force of commitment and dedication to the project. Alot of the success of his community can be attributed to him. He is the first up and out weeding, tending the seedlings checking the young saplings in the forest, making fire breaks.
Nothing is too small or too large a job for him to do.
And as the programme grows year on year, he is in a steady routine of moving from one tree planting phase to the next, he has found his purpose and role in his community.
And his community, well they can’t talk more highly of him and how much work he invests into the forest. The dedication and togetherness of Malonga Two community is awe inspiring.
They say, “before on this mountain there was no beauty, only problems. Now we see the change and we feel the change and it is good.”
The Tree Project impacts Malawi and the world on a great marco level, planting 50,000 diverse trees, in protected land, year on year.
But we don’t just plant trees on pre-bought land and employ a handful of people to guard and manage it. We go much much further.
We believe in the long road, that lasting change is not a result of a quick fix. The impact of that stance has taken years of investing in people, growing relationships and conservation education. We are seeing how trees can be transforming for the environment, whilst having life changing socioeconomic benefits for individuals and communities.
If you would like to be a part of this project, we are releasing a new way to be involved, it will be limited to a small number of people.
Sign up here to learn how to maximize your impact through the Tree Project in 2023: