Carel du Toit
BACKGROUND:Children who are deaf can learn to speak if a hearing impairment is detected early and there are no other complications. This is the belief at the Carel du Toit Centre in Cape Town, the only facility of its kind in the Western Cape to offer an all-encompassing, structured pre-primary school environment with an early intervention programme and foundation phase for deaf children. The Carel du Toit Trust was established in 1988 to raise funds to financially support the Centre and supplement government funding. As a non-profit organisation, the Trust is reliant on the generosity of donors to raise the funds necessary for the Centre to operate optimally and thus ensure sustainability for future generations of deaf children.
SITUATION RIGHT NOW:In South Africa, 17 infants with hearing loss are born every day. In an ideal world for audiologists, children are to be screened for hearing loss within one month after birth, diagnosed by three months and then receive intervention for the baby and family from six months onwards. All the necessary amenities a child who is deaf needs for successful integration into a hearing society are provided under one roof at the Carel du Toit Centre in Cape Town’s Tygerberg area, where deaf children learn to speak. Unfortunately the demand for the Centre’s services exceeds its capacity to deliver thus not benefitting all those children who are in need. Over 61 new families have started (hearing loss) intervention in the last 11 months and according to a cost of living survey, more than 35% of these families earn less than R4600 per month (confirmed by wageindicator.org). The number of children enrolling has increased since the launch of the pilot project at the Mitchell’s Plain Hospital, to introduce newborn hearing screening in the Western Cape. This project is a partnership with the Western Cape Department of Health, the Children’s Hospital Trust and the Carel du Toit Centre. The result of this project is a decrease in the average age of diagnosis, which is a positive outcome but the anticipated escalation in referrals to the Centre has also transpired, causing an increased need for the Centre’s clinical capability, as well as services offered at the Centre. Approximately 80% of the Centre’s families have required additional financial support for transport, food parcels, hearing aid batteries, and repairs to children’s hearing technology. The Centre is currently at (beyond) maximum capacity, and needs to urgently increase its facilities to accommodate the learners identified by the new interventions, as the impact on the lives of the hearing impaired, such as speech and language acquisition, improves dramatically if detected early.
ROTARY INVOLVEMENT:The Rotary club of Bellville was approached by a member of the Bristol breakfast Rotary Club (UK) to assist with managing a project to build sports facilities. This grew from a simple facility to a multi purpose facility, and involved 10 clubs in 5 countries, and was completed in 2017. As a result, Bellville Rotary have committed to partnering long term with the Carel du Toit centre to help expand facilities and ensure care can be extended to all who need it. The club has committed to tackling one phase at a time, and once each phase is funded and in progress, will start on the next part of the project. The project contacts for this project are Mike Rosewall – firstname.lastname@example.org and Jan Leerkamp – email@example.com
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