Monday, 12 February 2007

Kenya Christian School for the Deaf Faces A Brighter Future

From the newsroom of the Journal Chretien, France, Tuesday, January 30, 2007 .....

Kenya School for the Deaf Faces A Brighter Future

Empowerment Project Focuses on Self-Reliance and Sustainability

By Michael Gantt

BRATTLEBORO, VERMONT (USA) - The old proverb says, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day ; teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." James Kabao, of Schuller Development Services in Nairobi, Kenya is putting a new twist on an old line - "Give a man a loaf of bread and you feed him for a day ; give him an oven and you'll be amazed at what he will cook up." Kabao is helping a group of deaf children bake a new and brighter future.

The children who attend the Kenya Christian School for the Deaf in Oyugis are among the poorest and most disadvantaged class in the country. Many of them are orphans or abandoned by their families while others are placed in the school because it gets them out of the home and out of sight in a country where deafness is a cause for discrimination and isolation. They live in a rented block building and hold classes and often sleep and eat in an uninsulated tin building. Their primary diet includes ugali (a corn meal and water loaf) and when available, cabbage. They rarely have meat or milk. These are truly among the poorest of the poor. While the school does get some support through Deaf Missions International and some student sponsorships from Christian individuals in America, it is almost never enough to provide more than the most basic of needs.

That may all be about to change, thanks to James Kabao of Schuller Development Services in Nairobi. In December of 2006 Kabao began working under the sponsorship of Agape Christian Fellowship in Brattleboro, Vermont to initiate a deaf empowerment project similar to others he has established all over Kenya and East Africa among impoverished groups. If things go well, the school could be entirely self-supporting within a period of two years.

The installation of new wood fired ovens and cook stoves, charcoal production equipment, and incubators are currently being fabricated for the school. During the first half of February, Kabao and his crew will be remodeling rooms and installing equipment to open a bakery, and charcoal brickette production facility, and incubators for raising boiler chickens to be sold in local markets.

The students of the Kenya Christian School for the Deaf will be trained to operate the bakery, produce the charcoal, and manage the production of the boiler chickens. Each student will have age appropriate responsibilities in the business ventures and graduates of the school will be certified in their various fields, making them significantly more employable. In addition, older students will be trained in the skills needed to start and manage their own businesses. Kabao predicts that the school will be earning an income by the end of March and fully self-reliant with in the next year or so.

The Deaf School project is not a new venture for James Kabao. He has assisted over thirty other groups through out Kenya develop similar projects ; all of them very successful.

One such project in the Nairobi area helped young Brian Shiroko, a deaf man who had little hope of employment, develop his own business model. Today, Brian owns his own business which includes a bakery, weaving shop, chicken production, charcoal production (which supplies thirty other bakeries), and plastic recycling plant. In addition, Brian maintains a remarkably productive vegetable and fruit garden which supplies many of the small markets in his area with fresh produce. Not only does Brian own his own business, but he trains and employs a full staff. Next year, Brian will be opening a Deaf Training Center which will invite the deaf from all over Kenya to enroll for training which will enable them to duplicate what Brian Shiroko has been able to do, all over the country.

Based on Brian Shiroko's success, James Kabao believes the Kenya School for the Deaf can, within a relatively short period of time, become entirely independent of outside support and will be able to significantly improve the quality of life not only for the students of the school but for the surrounding community as well.

Members and friends of the Agape Christian Fellowship have contributed just over $5000 to provide start up money for the project. It their hope that the KCSD project will provide a workable model that can be reproduced in impoverished communities not only in Africa, but in other parts of the world as well. The Agape Fellowship has a sizeable Deaf congregation and many of the church's Deaf community have contributed to the school and to this project.

If you would like to know more about this project, contribute to its ongoing su ccess, or receive periodic updates on the progress of the project, you may write for information to Pastor Michael Gantt at

Copyright © 2007 ASSIST News Service