To celebrate Sign Language Week (15-21 March, 2021), we are sharing the stories and experiences of deaf children in Africa.
When Matthew was born nine years ago in Uganda, his mother did not realise that his hearing was impaired. During the first two years of his life, Matthew did not cry out loud; his family saw tears rolling silently down his cheeks. Whenever they tried talking to him, he couldn't imitate any sounds, although he was able to follow their facial expressions like smiling.
When Matthew (not his real name) was seven, his mother brought him to Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital on the advice of a friend, where they confirmed that Matthew was deaf. His mother felt sad that he would not be able to join in with his five older siblings; she thought he would not be able to do many of the things that they could.
The Kyaninga Child Development Centre (KCDC) in Fort Portal, which Accomplish supports, got to know Matthew in 2018. KCDC talked his family through what deafness meant and reassured them that deaf children can live a happy, full life and can thrive.
The family started attending sign language sessions together with Matthew and now they find it very easy to understand him and communicate with him.
Matthew eventually enrolled in school and is now in Primary Three. He has emerged as one of the best students. His parents now regard him as the same their other children because, as his mother said with a bright smile on her face, he is "too knowledgeable and strong!"
During the past year, when schools have been closed, Matthew taught himself how to make clay cooking pots (as pictured).
Matthew's mother is incredibly grateful to KCDC for their work with Matthew and other children like him, and is so glad that she got in touch with such an amazing organisation.