South East Hearing Care Centres managing director Rob Davies recently returned from another charity mission to the Reverend Muhoro School for the Deaf in the heart of rural Kenya.
About the school
Situated in the remote district of Mukurewe-ini among the foothills of Mount Kenya at an elevation of 1695 metres, the secondary school is home to 240 profoundly deaf boys and girls between the ages of 14 and 22 years and 100 able hearing children.
With limited state funding and a non-welfare system, the school is heavily reliant on charitable support and donations to assist with running the school and continued education. As well as sponsorship of students who would not be able to attend the school due to lack of fees.
The school was founded in 1993 with just 10 boys and Rob and his team’s involvement started 17 years ago when there were barely 200 students present. It is one of only five secondary schools for deaf students in Kenya and has expanded year on year to include mainly Kenyan children but some from as far away as South Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi.
It is unique in pairing deaf and able hearing students which enables the hearing impaired to retain their powers of speech and for all students to learn an extra skill of sign language.
Over the years the school as been provided with state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment as well as hearing aids and accessories and batteries. This has required building and expansion of the audiometric facility on several occasions which allows us to look after the students’ needs as well as the local community.
Our latest visit included meetings with the local MP and school governors to map the way forward for the future of the school. We have set the goal of making the school a centre of excellence for audiological provision and training of anyone with an interest in audiology so the benefits can be rolled out further afield.
Our vision is to provide continuous education at secondary level as this will ensure a brighter future and potential employment prospects, thus assisting to break the cycle of poverty.
Moulding the future
This visit was no exception to the past in taking hearing aids and accessories but with one noticeable difference. We equipped the school with mould making facilities and all the machinery necessary, along with intensive training, to procure their own hearing aid moulds.
This is a very involved and lengthy process but an important step to becoming a centre of excellence. There will now be potential for income generation to enable the school to purchase the necessary materials for the mould making process.
In the past the ear impressions would be taken on our visits and then brought back to England for manufacture before being sent back to the school for fittings. This process took many months but that lead time has now been cut to a few days as half a dozen ear moulds can be made in the same day. It is just one of our strategies to make the school self-sufficient.
The school is extremely grateful for the continued support and sponsorship of students and we are thankful to St Andrews Church in Nuthurst and organisations like Horsham Rotary Inner Wheel and leading hearing aid manufacturers Phonak, Oticon, Starkey and Resound, along with some of our own patients and local community members in offering student sponsorship.
The students in their own words say they owe their sponsors profound gratitude for changing their lives and affording them the opportunity of continued education.
It was many years before I realised that students not present on subsequent visits, was not because they had moved or finished their education, but simply lack of funds to pay school fees, resulting in their exclusion.
How you can get involved
If you would like to help in sponsoring or part sponsoring a student, please pop in to our offices at 20-22 Bishopric, Horsham or contact 01403 218863 for further information. You can also email at email@example.com.
A full year of boarding, uniform, meals and education is only £250. Every student sponsored gives us regular feedback and letters on their progress and what sponsorship means to them.
Rob with some of the students that have been sponsored and their parents