Hello! My name is Jimmeaha Mack, I am 18 years old and am originally from Downingtown, Pennsylvania. Currently, I am a first-year student studying Public Relations at Susquehanna University. I first heard about this internship opportunity through my university, though after researching and reading about Deaf Open World’s mission, I found that their ideals of equal and accessible education for all lined up perfectly with mine, and I wanted to become involved in their efforts.
For the next five months, I will be serving as the Public Relations & Marketing Intern of DOW. My responsibilities include researching fundraising strategies, assisting my supervisor and co-founder of Deaf Open World, Pamela Keilig, with fundraising campaigns and eventually, creating, designing and organizing a fundraising campaign of my own.
So far, with this being the first week of my first internship ever I think that things are going well. It’s a bit of an adjustment working remotely, but I think the remoteness of this organization helps rally support and awareness for their efforts all around the United States. Also, I’ve enjoyed researching and receiving information about the current status of not only youth, but the standard of living within the Kingdom of Eswatini.
While researching, it’s easy to see the living conditions of people with disabilities (PWD) compared to those without are different, and on some margins completely skewed towards the latter. Living in a country like the United States, it’s easier to normalize the living conditions we have such a food and, to us, ‘common’ appliances. Though in a south African country such as Swaziland, these immentities are very thinly spread and uneven. In a 2006 study by Anne Swindale and Paula Blinsky using the Household Dietary Diversity Score (HDDS), it was found that households with at least one PWD were more likely than households without to report a common occurrence (more than three times) of no food to eat in a series of two weeks. Furthermore, in a similar study, it was found that households with a PWD were less likely to have access to resources providing information, such as televisions and newspapers, than other households. In addition, I have found that the education and school system for deaf students in particular, provides little to no means of a proper education opportunity for these students; with a hearing teacher provided by the government, and no funding for a interpreter for both the students and teacher provided by the government. Specifically, deaf students with hearing parents, which represents a majority of these students, tend to struggle the most not only because of the education system, but because of the language barrier that follows them home. Though, the silver lining to all of this are the organizations I have found in my research such as, The Federation of Organizations of the Disabled Persons in Swaziland (FODSWA), Swaziland National Association of the Deaf, as well as others, who work to enforce the rights of PWD found in the Constitution.
Looking towards the future, I am very excited to learn more and to see what will happen in these upcoming months, and how I can contribute to DOW’s mission to increase opportunities for deaf youth in Swaziland/Eswatini.
Thanks for reading, I’ll be back soon!