Communication Transforming Hearts and Minds of Colorado Students who are Deaf/HH.

August 16, 2010

By:  Mandi Darr, Educational Consultant for Individuals who are Deaf/HH

It was happening right before my eyes as I looked into the faces of students at a Colorado elementary school while simultaneously seeing into the hearts of the students at the Ephphatha School for the Deaf in Burkina Faso, Africa.  Skype video technology has opened communication with the potential to unite our globe in ways only our hearts can imagine.  The lasting impacts to students and staff in both countries are beyond my understanding.  Yet, as evidenced by emotional classroom dialogues following their Skype video experience this transformed the hearts and minds of many.

Colorado Classroom

How is this possible?  It is people who realized they can change the lives of others on the other side of the globe.  It is student council groups who have purchased chalk for the Deaf School in Burkina Faso.  It is neighbors and community who have provided household/school items shipped in containers to Africa.  It is schools throughout the state who have given clothing, school supplies and books to be used by other children who have almost nothing.  It is people, changed by their own involvement, who will be joining our team again to Burkina Faso this November 4 – 17, 2010.  It may be you.

Each trip to Burkina is different and focused on needs determined by their local leadership.  On past trips we have met with parents of children at the school, provided training for teachers and parents, modeled classroom instruction, presented hands on techniques and strategies, distributed donated supplies and set up a small computer lab.  During our March 2010 visit, an opportunity was created for regular and ongoing communication between Burkina Faso and Colorado.  The world is now open for continued training, mentoring of staff, opportunities to increase the language level of the students, student email pen pals, and growth for all.  Contributions made possible the installation of local internet service and a large flat screen monitor which we use regularly for Skype video and email contact.

Burkina Faso, West Africa classroom

Several Colorado school programs and two families have been able to communicate live with the students/staff in Burkina so far.  During one video call, everyone rejoiced when a Colorado first grader held their classroom pet turtle up to the web camera and the 49 students in first level class in Burkina signed “turtle” all together.  As their classmate with a cochlear implant stepped to the computer to speak, many 4th grade students were moved to tears when the African students realized for the first time not all individuals who are Deaf have black skin.  We invite you to share in these experiences with us.  If you, your family or your students desire a heart transformation, if your group/classroom/club would like to adopt the school for a service project, or you would like to encourage the people at the school for the Deaf in Burkina in some way, please contact Janine Cole or myself.

You may have read a previous article in The Communicator about the Ephphatha School for the Deaf written by Janine Cole, Supervisor for Outreach for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing at the Wyoming Department of Education.  We are part of a non-profit organization called the African Hope Initiative ( which was created to serve this school as well as support other initiatives in Burkina Faso.  You can see a video, spoken in English and interpreted in ASL, of the Ephphatha School for the Deaf on this website if you, your family or students are interested.  The three minute video provides information about the country, the school and gives you a visual picture of what life is like for these parents and children with hearing loss.

In the words of Paul Yanogo, principal at the Ephphatha School for the Deaf, (translated from French to English), “The students of our school were very happy to see the students of the Colorado school on Skype.  Your children are changing the lives of our children.  I hope we will see students again another time.  The students we have in our program are: 128 Deaf (72 boys and 56 girls) and 47 Hearing (21 boys and 26 girls).  Thank you that you think about us in Colorado.  Thank you for all of your support. May God bless all of you!”

Posted by Bill Walsh in AHI | No Comments

Door opens wide for teaching bible study in Burkina Faso

August 3, 2010

Community Bible Study International of Colorado Springs, Colorado (   Mission Statement:To make disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ in our communities through caring, in-depth Bible study, available to all, in partnership with the African Hope Initiative (  Mission Statement:Inspired by the love and actions of Jesus Christ we are dedicated to enhancing educational opportunities and the health of our brothers and sisters in Africa.” and the Assembly of God churches in Burkina Faso, West Africa under the leadership of Pastor Michel Ouedraogo will be launching a national effort to involve many in small group Bible studies throughout the country. The effort under the local leadership of Pastor Benjamin Yanogo hopes to ultimately include everyone in the 7000+ AOG churches and other denominations there, then to seven other nearby nations.

Pastor Benjamin YANOGO

The first leadership training through CBSI trainers, Frank and Marian Vroegop will take place in September.  Pastor Benjamin has already put together a Board of Trustees for accountability, begun the process of translating materials into French, Moore and Dioula, and is preparing for the nation-wide distribution of those materials.

Marian & Frank Vroegop- ICBS & Dave Bidwell- African Hope initiative

Pastor Benjamin writes, “At the end of the day, we believe that as we use CBSI’s material, we will be able to build a strong Church, a Church made of disciples. In this day, before we get our “well done” word from Jesus, we will hear him telling you: well done my beloved; you have allowed the people of Burkina Faso to get what I entrusted you for years. Rest in my love”. Then, we will all rejoice in Him.”

“Now go, I will help you speak and will teach you what to say”

Exodus 4:12

Posted by Bill Walsh in AHI | 1 Comment »


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