Our visit to the rural districts revealed the reality of so many Deaf children living in what can only be described as ‘double isolation’. Not only were they living in isolated communities, but were also living isolated lives within those communities. This was due to the fact that people in rural areas often associate deafness or disability as a curse.

Some of the deaf children who gathered to meet us at Enchine. (3.5-hour bus journey from Ambo).

Very few of the children we met had ever been to school as neither their parents nor the teachers in the local schools considered them capable of learning. Speaking to the parents of the children in their local language, our principal Mr Eshetu highlighted the many misconceptions that people have about deafness. He also told the parents about the Deaf school in Ambo and the potential it has to unlock the capacity for their children to participate fully and equally in both education and society. Given the right educational support, their Deaf child has the same ability to learn as their hearing siblings. While some of the parents found a lot of what was being said very challenging, the majority seemed relieved to learn this information and desperate for their child to receive such an opportunity. Indeed begged us to build such a school in their district. The social affairs employees mentioned that there were many more Deaf children registered with them, however some of them were too afraid to travel from their homes to attend these meetings.

Meeting some of the deaf children living in the rural district of Gedo.

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