Ignored. Marginalized. Illiterate. We strive to give hundreds of thousands of deaf and hard of hearing in East Africa
a voice and a chance at experiencing the love and acceptance of Christ.
In Kenya alone, there are an estimated 600,000 deaf people, many illiterate and uneducated in important matters that affect their lives. Some have never heard the message of the Gospel nor do they know about social issues that affect them, such as HIV/AIDS. CMA has made a point over the last two decades to give the deaf a voice in East Africa.
In an effort to uplift those who are hearing impaired in Kenya and bridge the gap between the deaf community and the hearing, we launched our Deaf Ministries department in 2003. Since that time, we have been providing sign language training for healthcare professionals and other public service workers. Through partnership with Kambui School for the Deaf and the construction of Emmanuel Church for the Deaf in Ikinu, we have many opportunities to address the physical, social, and spiritual needs of the deaf community in the Kiambu District.
With poverty levels in the deaf community so high, it is difficult for church members and leaders to afford constructing their own church building. CMA is proud to have built the first deaf-owned church in Kenya. With a growing congregation, church members gather together to support each other and pursue Christ in a language they can understand.
Even in loving homes with healthy relationships, it can be a severe shock for parents to discover that their child is deaf. Like many homes with a special needs child, relationships within the home are often strained. We have found that in these families:
• Parents are communicating less with one another as they personally deal with feelings of inadequacy, guilt, fear, and frustration.
• Siblings begin to resent the deaf child for a variety of reasons.
• The deaf child is living in constant frustration over inadequate communication within the home.
Since we believe that healthy and strong family units are the foundation for building vibrant, life-giving churches and communities, we invest in the lives of these precious children and help to build strong families in Kenya through:
Vacation Bible School (VBS)
Through use of sign language and materials that contain beautiful illustrations of foundational Bible stories, we are able to reach 200 deaf children with the love of Christ each year. Furthermore, we intentionally train and equip the teachers at the deaf schools to better disciple students in the Word of God through our God’s Word, Every Child program.
Family Communication Seminar
Generally speaking, much of a child’s self-worth and self-esteem is developed within the home. When parents and other family members are struggling with communication barriers and existing social barriers, these basic needs often go unmet. The purpose of the seminar is to help alleviate the parents’ burden by enabling communication and strengthening relationships within the home as well as encouraging the development of healthy relationships within the larger deaf community. The Family Communication Seminar covers the following topics:
• How to communicate with your child.
• Meeting the unique needs of your child.
• How your child and family can benefit from interacting with the larger deaf community.
• Raising awareness and advocating for the deaf in your local community.
• Accessing community support services
Advocacy and Support
Due to existing cultural stigma and local misconceptions, many hearing families are not equipped to cope with the social challenges of raising a deaf child. These situations often bring a tremendous amount of added stress on families that are already battling to overcome poverty. With the additional social pressures, it is not uncommon to find a deaf child that remains hidden away in the home for years often being denied of their basic needs for education and healthy social interaction. Children with hearing impairment often need special intervention to help them access the various service and support that they need. Our Deaf Ministries Program officer regularly travels to locations where children are suffering and require access to:
• Medical care
• Social services
• Appropriate educational opportunity
• Family support and training
At CMA, we believe that the key to sustainable transformation in any community is in raising up local leaders. In 2013, we are planning to expand our Leadership Training Program to reach the pastors and lay leaders of the deaf churches in Kenya. Due to the communication barrier, hearing impaired leaders in East Africa have little to no access to basic theological training, practical Biblical instruction, or leadership equipping. Our goal is to strengthen, train, and equip the leaders of the deaf church so that they are better prepared to meet the unique needs of the deaf community.
In addition to the implementation of our Leadership Training Program, our Children and Youth Ministry team is continuing to train and equip teachers in schools for the deaf to be more effective in reaching children with the love of Christ and instructing them in the Word of God.