A Travellerspoint blog

Big-nose, gappy tooth, bushy brows

And other common sign-names

semi-overcast 28 °C

When you move to a new country and culture, you anticipate learning a new language. We imagined we might be learning the local language, but so far we have been immersed in sign language. One of our highlights of our time in Arua has been seeing some of the team’s work with the deaf community. Deaf people here are often treated like second-class citizens – ignored, excluded and rejected, and often feared in case they have been cursed. Some of the team here are trying connect the deaf with the hearing. There are 4 deaf students on our course, which has been an eye -opener to another subculture. We are trying to learn some sign language so that we can communicate, but it is not an overnight task, and often my hands seem like clunky claws when trying to sign.

Something that has provided much needed light relief is seeing how the deaf give people sign names. This process begins with the deaf person (or people) studying the person’s facial features (or body) for something distinctive. (This period is usually accompanied with nervous laughter & the deaf suggesting signs to each other). Then, a person’s large nose or gappy teeth or big lips (or hips) are drawn attention to, and they have to sign to the crowd ‘my sign name is hook nose’. It is quite refreshing to see such blatant observations and naming, rather than it being behind people’s backs. There is a 6 ‘ 8’’ German guys visiting the base who was recently named ‘Bushy Brows’… (not that David had anything to do with persuading the crowd…)
Learning Sign Language from 'Long Nose' the teacher

Learning Sign Language from 'Long Nose' the teacher

It is a bit overwhelming with all the layers of cultures and subcultures here on the base… the Ugandan culture, the local culture , the YWAM culture, the deaf subculture, and of course, the weird world of the missionary subculture…
“Big, wavy Hair’’ (you can imagine the sign) and I are so keen to try and protect the precious & small amount of time and space within our 4 concrete walls for our own family culture (bedtime stories, regular bedtime, the occasional square of Bourneville, Marmite, photos etc) in order to stay sane during these 6 months. (Well, relatively...).
Tea Time

Tea Time

Posted by africraigs 11:35 Archived in Uganda

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Hello my favourite Craig family! Great to read your post and remember just what it was like for me four years ago. Ahh . . . I wish I was in a hurry to get back but not yet. Love you and praying for you! Denise

by Denise

Dear Hook Nose and Big Wavy Hair, please do all you need to do to stay sane! marmite, bedtime reading and bournville chocolate really can't be beaten - ooh except by a hot cuppa! i too am trying to stay sane and enjoying my new nursing role at the western. Love Jen xx

by Jenny

You guys are great - pleased to her u r learning sign language 'big wavy hair' and 'swinging hips'and 'smilry baby' - hope you are all safe and well. Every blessing for life in U. Much love P&P xx

by Peter & Paula Phillips

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