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Deaf role models in Africa: Kenya documentary launch

Rose lost her hearing at the age of eight. Despite that, she embraced the new challenge and through a CBM partner she attended schools for the deaf at both primary and secondary levels followed by integration at a public university. Currently, she is the assistant Inclusive Development Officer at CBM East Africa Regional Office in Nairobi, Kenya. She is also finalizing on her Masters Degree in Entrepreneurship Development at the University of Nairobi.

Deaf Role Models in Africa documentary aims to profile the successes and achievements of individuals with hearing impairments and to raise awareness among parents and the local community that investing in the education of a deaf child is rewarding.

The Deaf Role Models in Africa; Kenya documentary was launched at a colourful ceremony at the University of Nairobi on 17th September 2014. The documentary profiles the successes and achievements of individuals with hearing impairments from Kenya. CBM East Africa Assistant Inclusive Development Officer, Rose Kwamboka, was featured as a one of the role models.

The concept of the Deaf Role Models was born in February 2012 through a collaboration of different partners among them CBM, University of Nairobi, Royal Dutch-Kentalis and Kenya National Association for the Deaf. The purpose of the documentary is to raise awareness among parents and the local community that investing in the education of a deaf child is rewarding.

In her opening remarks, Kirstin Lee Bostelmann Regional Director CBM East Africa, noted the usefulness of this documentary in changing social attitudes concerning children with disabilities. ”We are pleased to be associated with this critical information and education resource that will contribute toward raising awareness about deaf culture in Kenya and also act as a crucial tool in the advocacy of the rights of Deaf people as well as persons with disabilities in general in the country. I hope that this documentary will be disseminated far and wide through all channels of communication in support of high quality education for Deaf children based on a strong Sign Language foundation.’’

Equal Access for inclusion education

International Knowledge Exchange Advisor, Kentalis International Mr. Johan Wessman making his remarks at the launch

International Knowledge Exchange Advisor, Kentalis International Mr. Johan Wessman making his remarks at the launch

According to the Kenya National Survey of Persons with Disabilities 2008, about 4.6% of Kenyans have some form of disability. Of this population, 11.7% are persons have hearing impairments. Over 300,000 children in Kenya are deaf and don’t have role models. Another 2 million people in Kenya are deaf adults. All these children have the right to access proper and quality education as stated clearly in the Constitution of Kenya. Only 2% of adults have attained higher education up to University level.
International Knowledge Exchange Advisor, Kentalis International Mr. Johan Wessman who is deaf echoed the other speakers’ sentiments. ‘’I have seen many deaf people lead normal lives given early intervention. We can provide equal access through schools, communication, good role models, networks within the schools children to bring down barriers. Media should also be encouraged to use captions and subtitles so that information access is key for those who are deaf. Deaf people should be visible out there’’ he saidIn her key note address Ms. Stijin Jassen, First Secretary, Political Affairs representing the Ambassador, Embassy of Netherlands commended the good work put in by Kentalis and the partners. ’’We are pleased to be part of this launch. Such initiatives are not just tools for advocacy but also motivate deaf children and help them understand that it is very possible to achieve what you set out to do. We should motivate and encourage deaf people all over the world.” She officially launched the Deaf role models documentary to the public.About 2,500 copies will be distributed all over Kenya and some copies disseminated in Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia as a tool for advocating for education for children who are deaf.

Funding for education

Part of the crowd watching some of the stories of the Deaf role models

Part of the crowd watching some of the stories of the Deaf role models

CBM together with its partners work with persons with disabilities to help them improve their quality of life by overcoming the barriers which cause exclusion and aims to promote inclusion through comprehensive healthcare, education and rehabilitation services available to the estimated one billion people in the world experiencing disability.
The Chairman of the National Council of Persons with Disabilities, Dr. Sankok, took the opportunity to echo some gains by the Government of Kenya in supporting access to education for children with disabilities. ‘’ About 40million shillings has been set aside for education assistance for all children with disabilities therefore parents have no excuse of not accessing these funds to empower their children,” he said.
One of the highlights of the event was an inspirational song performed by Machakos Secondary School for the Deaf-the 1st deaf school in Kenya to use sign language in its teaching curriculum. Other schools represented at the launch included Kerugoya School for the Deaf, Ngala Secondary School for the Deaf and Rev. Muhoro Secondary school for the deaf. This was a chance for these students to interact with the unveiled role models and gain insights on how to truly meet their potential in various sectors.Also speaking at the event was Prof Ndurumo, an associate professor at the University of Nairobi who is deaf acknowledged the contribution different people have made to shape his life. ‘I want to thank Dr. Peter Mba and Prof Godfrey Nguru, they were the first people I met in the USA as doctoral students. Dr. Mba being a deaf student from Nigeria was my role model. I would also like to thank Mr and Mrs Joshua Ichangi who have been my mentors for the last 44 years, without them I would not be who I am today. They have played a very significant role in my life.” he said
”I also want to acknowledge CBM for the contribution they are making to special schools and the sponsorship they offer to deaf students. I hope the deaf students will be inspired and motivated by this documentary and policy makers challenged by this evidence based policy.’’ he added.The sponsors of the documentary were praised for the good work and the great step towards eliminating barriers. It is a celebration of reinforcing a ‘Yes we can’ voice.
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