Rev. Bismarck Chau is currently a pastor of St. John’s Church in Newark, New Jersey. St. John’s Church is well known in the Newark area for its soup kitchen, feeding the hungry for over 30 years and also for being the Hub for the Deaf community of many areas in central and northern New Jersey.
As chaplain of the Deaf Community of the Archdiocese of Newark and the only priest that knows Sign Language, Rev. Bismarck Chau has come to learn about the frustrations and obstacles Deaf individuals encounter throughout their lives.
In the eight years of working with the Deaf community, He found that Deaf children especially lack in communication and reading comprehension skills. He learned how the current school system is not helping enough our Deaf children to reach their full potential. Their reading, writing, and comprehension skills are way below their academic level. Low self-esteem is a big issue among the Deaf youth as well; some of them feel trapped and frustrated and with every reason. Rev. Bismarck Chau found Himself in prayer one day and asked: ‘Lord, what do you want me to do to help these children, your children?” and He began to dream. His dream was to start a summer camp for Deaf Children lead by Deaf professionals to inspire and empower the Deaf youth.
Rev. Bismarck Chau shared his dream with a Deaf woman, Mayra Castro who happened to have the same dream along with her friend Ryan Cuevas also Deaf, and so it all began to unfold. Last year, the summer of 2016, ZOPPI DEAF CAMP was founded. The Camp was a full week of fun and inspirational talks on self-esteem, Deaf Culture, expressing oneself through art, and Deaf Film festival with Deaf actors and directors. All talks were presented by Deaf professionals with the purpose to inspire and create positive role models for the children.