Bishop Moses Masamba 2014, Project Riandu Patron
This is the foundational belief of the Project Riandu team. This partnership, consists of the Mbeere Mothers Union, deaf teenagers in eastern Kenya, a group of UK students, and the Peter Cowley Africa Trust. We recognise that humans have both a duty to support each other and the power to do so. Project Riandu team are working together to improve the integration of deaf and hearing impaired into local Kenyan society by building a specialised secondary school for deaf students in Riandu, eastern Kenya.
There is currently a lack of social understanding in Kenya regarding what it means to be deaf or hearing impaired. Deafness is often demonised resulting in many parents being ashamed of their children. This leads to the children being isolated, neglected and even abused. There is also limited support from the state. The current schooling system isn’t prepared to cater adequately for the needs of deaf students so many don’t receive an education. This severely limits their capacity to communicate and express themselves as they neither learn sign language nor to lip read. Opportunities for deaf people are restricted given the minimal support from the home and state.
The inspirational and highly motivated Mothers Union women, within the Mbeere Anglican Diocese, recognised the need for action on supporting deaf children. Through their wisdom, insight and passion, they set about to improve opportunities and integration of deaf students by setting up St Luke’s Primary school for the deaf. This supported 150 deaf and hearing impaired students with an access to education every year.
In 2013, through the Peter Cowley Africa Trust, they invited a team from the UK to support their work to build St Mary Magdelene Secondary School for Deaf teenagers. Honoured to work with such visionary people, the predominantly student led UK team worked hard to provide architectural designs, to fundraise and to recruit volunteers. In Kenya, the Mothers Union set up a temporary secondary school for deaf students in their retreat centre.
In August 2014, Project Riandu started on Phase One of the building process. The volunteers worked hard on the site, learning from the local construction team how to build. A kitchen, two classrooms and two dormitories were constructed. The current students plan to move into these facilities in February 2015.
This partnership will continue until the school has the capacity to educate 200 pupils at a time. The project is supported by both the local government and central government who are providing funding for teachers and a classroom. The team is thrilled by the progress and passionate for the future. But the task is not easy as they need to raise over £150,000 by June 2015.