This week, I watched a video that, although not created by ReACT, gives a glimpse of the transformation that happens when a deaf person finds a deaf community and education for the first time. (You can view the video here.) We have seen this transformation over and over again and it is simply not possible to put into words how not only students, but also their families and communities are radically changed by the education of a deaf child. In Kenya, the deaf are seen as cursed and are not treated as regular citizens or even family members. The government does not pay for the education of deaf children and so most are hidden in rural communities and subject to manual labour for the duration of their lives. Many deaf children are not even permitted to eat with their families.
In 2005, ReACT started by sponsoring 7 deaf children at a local, government recognized deaf school. In 2006, I, Michael, was invited to a meeting of the families of these 7 deaf children and was moved to see the smiles and hear the stories of transformation, not only in the children, but also in the families and communities. Parents came to me with tears in their eyes and through an interpreter I heard story after story of how this education impacted everyone that came into contact with them.
In 2015, we will see the first of these children write the government exams for their grade 8 equivalent and then most will move on to learning a trade. To witness the change in children over 10 years is incredible and one of the most rewarding things we have seen in our lives. Today, ReACT is sponsoring 34 children, all at various levels of education. The school fees have remained virtually unchanged in the past decade and at $250 per year, a child receives a uniform, books, room and board for the entire year. This Christmas, if you are looking for the "gift that keeps on giving", consider sponsoring a deaf child in any number of countries through several trusted and researched programs, not just ReACT's.
Truly, the deaf can hear!