We live in a world of high speed communication. We can contact friends on the other side of the world simply and clearly. So it is extremely difficult for us to imagine what it must be like not to be able to communicate with anyone at all, even those who live in the same village as us. What it is like to be totally ignored as if invisible; to be ostracized as it is accepted by everyone that we are cursed. Scary! This was the situation Mbabazi (meaning Grace) Evelyne was in. She was born in the remote western Ugandan village of Kagando – and became deaf after an illness when she was very young. However, from this dreadful start in life for Evelyne the future contained some miraculous good fortune. The first piece of good fortune was Evelyne’s mother. Quite often parents (especially fathers) of handicapped children can’t cope with the shame and stigma of having a ‘cursed’ child so they reject their child, and often the mother too, who then have to fend for themselves. Villagers also throw them out as they are frightened that they may also become cursed. Evelyne’s mother looked after her together with her two brothers and three sisters. Miracle number one.
When Evelyne was a young girl, Accomplish Children’s Trust built and supported the growth and work of a vocational training centre for disabled children. The project was called SADICH (Save Our Disabled Children’s Home). Not exactly a children’s home as we would understand this, SADICH does however provide a safe place of support for disabled children and their families amidst a culture which rejects them. Run by a dedicated team this project has blossomed and in almost ten years has helped hundreds of vulnerable children and supported their families. It was built in a village called Kagando. Miracle number 2.
Evelyne is a bright child. Despite her deafness and with the support of her loving mother, she managed to receive primary education. Ugandan rural schools are poorly equipped so the lessons are often delivered through singing; useless for Evelyne. The class sizes are huge – often seventy to eighty children in each class. Teachers who can sign are few and far between. The fact that Evelyne received any primary education at all is Miracle number 3.
Having passed her primary school exams, what about secondary schooling? There was nothing for deaf children in the Rwensori region at all. Sending Evelyne to Kampala (the capital of Uganda) miles and miles away, to a boarding school for deaf children was a pipe dream. Then the staff at SADICH applied to Accomplish Children’s Trust for sponsorship for Evelyne’s education and several generous donors provided the means for her secondary education dream to come true. She was able to attend Wakiso Secondary School for the deaf in Kampala. Miracle number 4.
Early in 2018 ACT received this email from the chairman of SADICH:-
‘Evelyn completed senior six (i.e. she completed her secondary education) and joined Nsamizi Training Institute for Social Development – affiliated to Makerere University in Kampala. She completed last year and obtained a diploma in Gender and Social Development.’ Miracle number 5.
Evelyne’s achievements have come via several miracles and also much hard work, guts and determination from herself and love
and belief from her family against huge social pressure. Support from Sadich and Accomplish has been vital. Evelyne is an example of what can be achieved and what Accomplish and also SADICH are all about. What the future holds for Evelyne is in God’s hands but she has expressed a wish to help other deaf children find a positive role in their villages. Her example will be an inspiration to them as well as a positive influence on cultural attitudes to deaf children.
Furthermore the founder of Accomplish Children’s Trust, Rebecca Cornish, writes:
Evelyne became deaf after developing a febrile illness as a young girl. The community then laughed at her mother for bothering to try to care and educate her as she was now deemed worthless. I will always remember the hug that her mum gave me and how much it meant to her that people from the other side of the world could care for her child enough and value her to help with the struggle of educating her child. And how much this meant to her having had years of her community rejecting her child as worthless.
Mbabazi Evelyne with her proud mother.