Imagine you are born into a family, into a world, where you cannot communicate. You cannot tell anyone your hopes and dreams or even your nightmares. No one can comfort you or tell you how things might be different. You will spend your whole life unable to make friends, go to school or earn a living. Without sign language and an education, this is what life is like for deaf children born into hearing families in the developing world. At the core of everything we do at Deafway is the belief that every deaf child and adult, wherever they live in the world, should have access to sign language. The effects of having no access to language and communication are disastrously detrimental to physical and emotional health. The impact of exposing these children to sign language and giving them the opportunity to make friends and to learn is invaluable, and it is something that will be shared and developed for years to come.
In Uganda, attitudes towards Deafness are poor. Children who are Deaf are seen as a curse and hidden away, out of sight. In a country where poverty levels are so high they are seen as a burden and are not cared for by members of the family, some are in danger of harm and abuse. Many of the children at the school are orphans; through poor maternal health care, a high prevalence of HIV and AIDS or through rejection and abandonment by their parents. The school not only provides hope for the future for these children but increases awareness of Deafness in the surrounding communities.
Established in 2010 by Father Anthony Ssenkaayi; St Anthonys School, Uganda provides an education in Ugandan Sign Language and English for over 50 Deaf children without this school most of the pupils would never have the opportunity to learn how to communicate at all.
When I visit St Anthonys on our annual monitoring visit I am always struck by the vibrancy and joy that you feel as you arrive and throughout the visit. The children here are so happy to be at school and the whole place feels like a family. They are always excited to show you their work and involve you in what they are doing.
Father Anthony works tirelessly to keep the school open and to care for the children. He takes no salary, even though we send him one, all his money goes straight back into the school funds. At the land the school is built on he has a number of livestock and arable farming projects which helps to fund the school, his aim is that one day the school will become self - sustainable but for now he relies on the support they receive from generous donors in the UK.
I cannot stress enough how vital and vibrant this school is, and how much difference it is making.
We really need your help to keep the school open. Could you donate £10 and become one of the 1000 Friends of St Anthony's, and could you persuade others to join you?