HUMBLE HEARTS SCHOOL, NAIROBI
(15 April 2004)
My name is Beatrice Anunda from Nairobi Kenya and I am 32 years old am a Christian. I work as a volunteer at Humble Hearts School for the Deaf as a teacher, counsellor, mother and friend.
I love traveling, meeting people and teaching, I spend most of my time at the school with children.
Humble Hearts school for the Deaf is located in Donholm Nairobi Kenya is a child welfare programme founded on voluntary basis by the community in the year 2003.
The programme which aims at promoting the welfare of deaf children from impoverished famished families of Nairobi was my own idea. The concept of the programme stemmed out of the live need for educational facilities for many deaf slum children not attending school. This was due to exorbitant fees charged in special schools. Many of these deaf children hail from poor slum families. Some have one parent, others have both parents, while others are completely orphaned. Being poor illiterate, semi-literate and without sign language knowledge the parents and guardians keep these children at home often not knowing what to do with them.
Others feel deafness is an embarrassment or a curse and end up hiding them The children have no books, shoes, wear torn clothes, are malnourished, full of self pity, and are often very defensive. A sense of rejection and lack of self worth creates a serious withdrawal syndrome that makes the children look less creative and unproductive.
The children's environment in the slum is really pathetic the population is very high and incomes very low. The school provides a counselling and support system, feeding and educating the children. It takes such a short time for the children to open up and cope with school life performing well discarding fear and self- pity.
The main objective of the programme is to instil moral and quality life into the deaf slum children through the provision of food, education and upbringing to present into the society responsible individuals from childhood.
* To help children heal from the trauma of rejection psychological and social ailments, denial and withdrawal through counselling and involvement in social economic activities.
* To provide primary and secondary and higher advance education for deaf children to deaf people.
* To establish vocational and professional training for skill and career development.
* To establish a bible college for the deaf.
SUCCESS OF THE SCHOOL
Humble Hearts is still young - about 9 months now but it has performed extremely well.
Our children have really changed, they look better than when they joined i.e. healthy, friendly and they can read, write, sign, in fact we have upcoming artists whom we are encouraging. The school has 20 children though some are still out of school due to lack of transport. These children live far and all the school can do is visit them on regular basis and until we get a school van or establish boarding school.
We have four volunteers working at the school one of them is a deaf teacher who teaches mathematics and computer, he is an inspiration to this children
Deaf children are sometimes very short tempered and they always want a lot of attention. As a teacher, I find that you must love the deaf children to be able to teach because one needs to be very patient with them. For instance you might have to teach one topic 2 to 3 times in order for them to be able to understand and not forget.
Another challenge is to work with the parents who think that deaf children are not capable of learning and become independent people. Many parents believe that all deaf children will be able to do is house work, carpentry or get married when they became of age it is really sad. Often parents tend to be very stubborn and during our first visits to their homes, it takes a lot of counselling to convince such parent to bring their children to school.
Our school is housed in a church premise, the humble building is made of corrugated iron on both the roof and walls the floor is not cemented. We rely on donations from the community in order to sustain ourselves.
We hold a regular “harambee”. These are community fundraising events, where everyone is asked to contribute money. Our most recent harambee was not successful, we only managed to raise KSh 2,000 but our landlord wants KSh 7,000. He has already closed the church/school because the deadline was on 5th April. I have been forced to dismiss the children until we sort out the rent issue.