Deaf in Uganda

Published: Mar 16th, 2012

This article, contributed by an Austrailian Deaf woman called Ceilidh Dane working in Uganda, may make you glad you live where you live!

Or it might just make you want to find out about volunteering to help people in areas like this by visiting or in other ways. Please leave your comments and ideas at the bottom of the page…

Boanerges Deaf Initiative – Uganda East Africa

Do you know about the Deaf in Uganda? How they live and what is there for Deaf in Uganda?  There are many Deaf people and children in Uganda. Deaf people use a sign language called Ugandan Sign Language (USL for short).

The Deaf people of Uganda are called or known as ‘Kasiru’ in their language, meaning ‘Stupid’ or ‘Foolish’. Deaf children are seen as evil or curse. It is thought as a spreadable sickness. There are no rights for Deaf people in Uganda. Deaf people can’t apply for a job, so they become very poor. Some Deaf people even children find other ways to make money by selling produce, items or hard or dirty labor work.

To most people in Uganda, sending a Deaf child to school is impossible and awaste of time. Most parents and families feel very ashamed to have a Deaf child. Deaf children suffer the most because their parents and communities reject them. They can be locked in a cage, tied to a tree or post, starved or brutally abused.

At Boanerges Deaf Initiative (BDI for short) we aim to provide the best education possible for our Deaf children. We have Deaf units within public schools for Deaf children to come to. We have a school in the North of Uganda with 90 Deaf children, and only one teacher. Also in the East of Uganda there are around 40 children in a Unit. In the centre in Kampala, there are currently 30 children in an old school facility that is being rented by BDI.

BDI was started as a small school of the Deaf and education opportunity for the community, under a tree! We are happy to say that we have some few acres in the North of Uganda and in the East for our future schools. In Kampala we have 5 acres of land ready to start building our school/Deaf education center. We hope to start building our dreams so that we may see a better environment for our children and have a place for Deaf people and families to come for friendship, education and any other help we will provide. We aim to be self sustainable and to support each other in BDI.

Our Director/founder is Joel Mwesigwa, a hearing man who had a Deaf brother. Joel’s brother became Deaf in his early teens and could not speak or communicate well. He did some carrying of goods as a small paid job. Police saw that he was carrying goods, but it was stolen goods from thieves. Joel’s brother could not understand what the police was trying to communicate about and the police thought he was being quiet because he stole the goods. He was beaten and burnt. Joel and his family found him and collected his ashes and buried him at their family burial site. This is how BDI was founded in 2006.
Smiles
We are continuing strong and our children are smiling, still we face many challenges.

We appreciate any help from volunteers, the best time would be from January 2013. Joel is busy at the moment to look after volunteers. He is keeping the schools in order and growing crop on the land we bought. I will be in Uganda in 2013 so I can look after visitors.

If anyone wants to contact Ceilidh directly, with questions or offers of help, then contact us at Deaf Unity and we can put you in touch. Contact Us by clicking here.

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10 Responses to “Deaf in Uganda”

  1. Maria Bailey says:

    Andy Owen and I are carrying out research for a new book exploring the communication support for deaf students in a number of countries. This story from Uganda is unbelievable and I feel that we really need to include information on the situation in Uganda in our book.
    Please could you forward my details or let me have the contact details of the person who wrote this article.

    Many thanks

    Maria

    • Joel Mwesigwa Tonny says:

      Maria, thank you that you wish ti include Uganda in your book, am a Ugandan working with the deaf, My wife wrote the article, we will be more than happy to help you with all you may need for your book,

      Have a better stay.

      Joel
      Director Boanerges Deaf Initiative

      • Maria Bailey says:

        Hi Joel and Ceilidh
        Thank you so much for your messages from December and January. I am very sorry but I was not aware of your replies and have only just seen them. Andy and I have been very busy completing our new book ‘Deaf Education Abroad’ but would dearly have loved to talk to you and to find out more about your work in Uganda. So sorry not to have included you in our research – maybe next time? Keep up the good work. Maria

    • Ceilidh Mwesigwa says:

      Hi Maria, thanks for the comment about the article. It’s interesting what you’re doing, we wish to help out. If you wish to contact me or Joel my husband please go through Deaf Unity or visit our website.

      Thanks and take care,

      Ceilidh.

    • Kathryn Montoya says:

      Hello Maria,
      Your book sounds very interesting. I have been writing a book about Joel and his life story and the work he is doing. He has a lot of information about the deaf in Uganda.
      I have recently been doing a lot of work with the deaf in Haiti. If you are interested in any information about the deaf there I would love to chat.

      • Maria Bailey says:

        Hello Kathryn
        I have only just seen your reply to my message from December 2012. I am so very sorry that I have not been in contact with you. Andy and I have been very busy with our book and we will be launching this next month at the ACSW and NATED Conference on 29 June. The book is called ‘Deaf Education Abroad’ and will be available from our publishers Talk With Sign Books. We have made contact with 16 countries and almost 80 people. Our book contains reports of interviews with almost 50 people in 10 countries. We would have loved to include information from Uganda and Haiti – maybe next time? So sorry once again. Maria

  2. Deaf Unity says:

    Hi Maria,

    Thanks for commenting about the work that is being done in Uganda by this fantastic organisation. We will connect both of you now. I think it is fantastic that you are exploring how Deaf students in other countries have access to education. We look forward to seeing the results of your hard work.

  3. Bernard Cassidy says:

    I would like to know more about the Boanerges Deaf Initiative.
    I became interested in learning about educational opportunities for deaf children after learning that my friend’s daughter is deaf, with practically no chance for an education in rural Uganda. At this time she is a lovely, bright happy little girl, but I forsee a very sad future. There probably are many similar children in Uganda. From my brief research, it seems to me there are only one or two schools for deaf children in Uganda.
    The Boanerges Deaf Initiative has impressed me as a sincere organization striving for improvements in the lives of deaf people. Please tell me more about your organization, where you receive funding from, how many teachers you have and their qualifications to teach deaf children. Is it possible for teachers to take special training in Uganda in order to be equipped to teach deaf children? Please tell me the “whole story” concerning Boanerges Deaf Initiative.
    Yours sincerely,
    Bernard

    • Deaf Unity says:

      We have forwarded your contact details to Boanerges Deaf Initiative. Please get back in touch and let us know how you get on :)

      • Bernard Cassidy says:

        Thanks for contacting Boanerges Deaf Initiative for me. Ceilidh has sent email to me answering my inquiries. I believe this is a very fine initiative and will be a leader in creating better lives for deaf children in Uganda.

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