Back in early February, on my very first day of school, one of my most vivid memories was meeting Ojilong – a 9-year-old boy who other teachers described as naturally bright, but deaf. He was not getting the help he needed at our village primary school because none of the teachers were able to teach him sign language and his parents did not have the means to send him to a school for disabled children. I remember feeling deeply sad seeing Ojilong wander around the school by himself when classes were in session – unable to hear his lessons or communicate with anyone beyond the rudimentary signs he had made up.
As weeks passed by, I could not stop thinking about the life of isolation that would be Ojilong’s future if he did not attend a school where he could learn sign language. I decided that because of my unique position of privilege in my community, I needed to be the one to coordinate sponsorship for Ojilong to attend nearby “Ngora School for the Deaf” throughout primary and secondary school. I realized that no matter how hard I work to teach children English at my primary school, sharing my privilege (as a white American with other American friends) and allowing underprivileged Ugandans to access resources/opportunities they never otherwise could might be a much more valuable service to give my community.
Through word of mouth, I managed to find an American friend to sponsor Ojilong’s first year of school (214 USD). With the help of his father and other teachers from Kamon, I was able to get Ojilong the supplies he needed for boarding at Ngora School for the Deaf and get him registered for his first term. He is currently in nursery (despite being 9 years old) learning the basics of sign language and trying to catch up with other children in his age group. Teachers have reported that he is eager to learn and already making friends in his class. From this point onwards, I am actively seeking people willing to sponsor future years of Ojilong as well as designing a website to achieve this goal.