Saturday, 06 January 2007

Daniel Ogembo's Letter to Marit of Deaf Aid

Mzee Bubu got another email written by Daniel Ogembo, a famous deaf leader (South Rift Valley Association of the Deaf)


Dear Marit,

I salute you in the name of our Lord and saviour Jesus for this precious and prosperous New Year 2007! I hope and trust that this year finds you in good health and spirit.

I thank you for your e-mail copied to me and my colleagues. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness and transparency in this issue.

I would now like to present to you my personal views as the elected Chairman of South Rift Valley Association of the Deaf and Board member of Kenya National Association of the Deaf.

I received the e-mails from Nickson, Opiyo, KNAD and Jack, among other concerned Deaf Kenyans.

What I read is a true and just reference of the issue at hand.

Now I would like to add my own voice to this saga.

The reason why I am not happy with Deaf Aid programmes are the following:-

1. I was in a meeting of Deaf Aid last year, the first time I was involved with this organization. I and other Deaf Kenyans talked with Jean-Claude and advised him that a NGO of this national scale must involve Deaf Kenyans. He declined to clarify on his intentions for Deaf Aid and decided to shroud the whole issue in secrecy. Why would he try to register a NGO which claims to assist the Deaf people of Kenya and yet NOT INVOLVE Kenyans themselves, especially when we know him to be from Togo, a West African country reputed for its money laundering scams?

2. When Deaf Aid was finally formed, we saw how Mr. Jean-Claude was exploiting poverty stricken Deaf Kenyans through biased employment and abuse of job seekers. Why should he abuse one particular Deaf lady by paying her Kenya Shillings 1,000/= (US$12) per month as her salary, against all employment provisions in the Laws of Kenya? He must be told in no uncertain terms that he broke the law and that even if Deaf Kenyans are poor, they have dignity!

3. Jean-Claude left Kenya after gathering all information he needed from appreciative Deaf Kenyans. He has now misused our trust by using the same information for his own personal gain. (Under the name of the Deaf people of Kenya.) We do not even have an iota of information regarding whether Deaf Aid is for the Deaf or by the Deaf. Why should an organization claiming to help the Deaf people of Kenya be shrouded in such secrecy?

4. We have never ever seen the constitution of Deaf Aid and its policies. This is in my view the bane of all this misinformation and problems. We request you to give us this information as a matter of urgency.

5. We don’t know the objectives, aims and missions of Deaf Aid. Without this information we justly feel that he is simply using money that donors wholeheartedly earmarked for the poorest of the poor Deaf Kenyans for selfish gain. We may be poor but we have intelligent Kenyans who have our welfare at heart.

Having said all that I believe that I should also include my personal suggestions:-

1. Call an urgent meeting with the Deaf community in Kenya to hear our general views. This will then be the beginning of a constructive discussion regarding Deaf Aid.

2. I future that you involve Deaf Kenyans in all projects, no matter how small and that country officials should be Deaf Kenyans themselves. In this case Deaf Aid country director should be a Kenyan to restore credibility and the majority of Board members should be Kenyans too.

3. Deaf Aid should maintain a high degree of transparency and accountability to the Deaf people of Kenya. All information should be made public because no organization can survive without the good will of the host country’s Deaf community.

4. It is sad to impose on Deaf Kenyans someone who has no knowledge of Sign Language such as Jean-Claude. This will only foster ill will and mutual mistrust.

5. The principle of full disclosure should be observed in future especially if and when funds are intended for all the Deaf people of Kenya.

Thanking you in advance, I beg to remain,

Yours faithfully,

Daniel Ogembo Otiende
South Rift Valley Association of the Deaf,
& Board Member of KNAD.