Parents with deaf children in Mombasa County yesterday launched a Community Based Organization that would champion for their children’s rights including education and health services.
The launch of Pamoja Parents for Deaf CBO by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir at Ziwani School for the Deaf was preceded by a procession that started at Tononoka and along Jomo Kenyatta Avenue and Nyali Road.
The CBO members appealed to the national government to consider constructing a secondary school that would address post primary educational needs of their children.
They said lack of a fully-fledged public secondary school in the county to offer education to learners with hearing impairment has forced them to take their children far despite their dire need of close parental care.
A couple, Daniel Anyazwa and Stella Habela, who have four children with hearing challenges said sending their children to far-flung schools has financial implication notwithstanding their living from hand to mouth.
“The nearest schools that cater for our children are in Kilifi and Kwale counties which also have their own challenges including accommodation. We had to dig deep into our pockets to take them upcountry,” said Habela.
The couple from Kwabulo area in Nyali constituency who have three sons aged 25, 24 and 8 and a 13 year-old daughter added that financial constraints complicated their efforts to educate their children.
“The two elder boys are studying plumbing and tailoring at Sikri Technical and Vocational College for the Blind and Deaf in Kisii County, while the rest at Ziwani School for the Deaf here in Mombasa. We are doing manual jobs to educate them. The local CDFs have overlooked learners in these institutions,” added Anyazwa.
Similar experiences were shared by Mildred Sigunda and Florence Kasichana, mothers whose children also suffer hearing impairment.
Mildred, a mother of three children including one with physical challenges and a deaf appealed to the national government and the local county government to provide incentives that would support education of their children.
“Our children deserve education and medical incentives like any other Kenyan children. We need properly equipped special public primary and secondary schools that cater for the education needs of our children,” added Mildred.
Kasichana, a resident of Kisauni and a mother to a deaf child said lack of sign language interpreters in public hospitals posed a major challenge to deaf community in Mombasa.
She called on the county government to consider hiring trained interpreters who could work with medical staff to attend and diagnose sickness of the deaf patients visiting public facilities.
“My adult son has been turned away several times because of communication breakdown and unless I accompany him, he will not be properly attended to,” added Kasichana.
Abdulswamad pledged to uplift the deaf community and other members of the society with other forms of disabilities.
He further assured the community that he would work with other stakeholders to provide solutions into some of current challenges facing them in accessing health and education for their children.
“I will continue to support you especially through skills such as tailoring, welding, masonry that would enable you to start income generating activities,” he added.
Statistics indicate that there are 200,000 deaf children with only about 10 per cent schooling.
The country has 120 schools including 23 secondary schools for deaf learners.
By Galgalo Bocha