More than 100 people living with various hearing disabilities assembled at the Bungoma County Government offices to mark the beginning of the international deaf awareness week that will be commemorated from 19th September till 25th September 2016.
Speaking to the West Media, their chairman Mr. Paul Wafula, explained that the members had come from different areas within Bungoma County to air their grievances to the government.
“The group consists of men, women, and children and amongst them, there are those who are talented and skilled and can be employed in various capacities, which include driving, cooking, secretariat dockets, and security,” said Mr. Wafula.
Addressing the group, the Deputy Governor Hillary Chengwony stated that the county is aware of the predicaments the deaf people go through and that measures have been put in place to ensure they are catered for through stable financial support. His office offered the group Kshs. 50,000, initiated the commencement of the five-day initiative and promised to look into the issues of concern they have as the week progresses.
Mr. Chengwony also disclosed the plan to have all the disabled people, including those with hearing disabilities, in the county supported by providing employment opportunities in the county under various departments. He appreciated the group for teaming up and coming out to air their grievances, and generally for the cleaning activity which many have neglected.
THE PLIGHT OF THE DEAF
Francis Sikuta, a 57-year-old married man, has been a qualified driver for 16 years but has never been employed, simply because of the stigma associated with being a deaf.
He says everyone has been neglecting him and any attempts to get a job have proved futile. To him, this commemoration comes at the right time and he had to beat all odds to be part of it. “I woke up at 4am, walked for four kilometres from my home in Sirisia to attend this memorial event,” said the father of eight. “I live hoping that our needs shall one day be considered by the County and national Government,’’ he adds.
Mr. Sikuta works as a barber during the day at his home in Sirisia and as a chef at night in the nearest restaurant to double his earning. He urges the community at large to embrace the disabled because they did not choose to be so. “The disabled should be treated with dignity and be offered with equal opportunities in every matter,” he said.
The international deaf awareness week is a week that brings together all the deaf people in the world and was launched in the year 1958. It makes it possible for the deaf to feel part and parcel of the society, many who have been neglected for ages.
The week ensures the deaf people are individually recognized by the community and even the government. The week is commemorated through various activities like marches, campaigns, exhibitions, meetings and involvement of stakeholders like professional sign language interpreters, disabled people organizations, governmental bodies, and families.