Impact of your enterprise on sustainable development
Over a year ago I joined Ishaara Project which runs the Caravan of Champions a mentorship program for Deaf youth. My most important achievement has been to successfully coordinate Caravan of Champions activities including youth camps, vision exchange trips, sports and arts competitions. This has resulted in over 500 Deaf youths having leadership skills, positive self esteem, forming 10 mentorship clubs in two schools for the Deaf and 50 youths paired with mentors and role models in the community. Being a product of a mentoring program while I was in college, I was taught to be a team player and a diligent goal oriented achiever. I have demonstrated this by taking up responsibility for a new program and I have risen the ranks to be a team lead in a span of one year. I have used my skills and experience to facilitate sessions on leadership, mentorship, life skills, career counseling. Moreover, I coordinate and supervise the particiaption of the youth in leadership camps, sports, music and art competitions. Consequently, Deaf youths have acquired skills, learn from mentors and gained valuable life skills critical in their growth into adulthood contributing to the overal organizational goal of enabling Deaf youth live up to their full potential as they rise above stigma, stereotypes and marginalization that they face. We have received positive comments from teachers of better academic performance and discipline of students involved in our program. The organization has also received invitation to expand the program to two other schools.
Sustainability and future plans
Positively changed attitudes towards Sign Language and the Deaf people. Affirmative actions by the educational and other relevant institutions towards SL and the Deaf Increased Sign Language interpreting services, esp. in education, media and other social services Increased interaction between the Deaf and hearing professionals; better service delivery. I recall watching the anguish as a neighbor become deafened in his teenage, the devastation on his dreams, the family struggling to get him help through speech therapy and eventually embrassing sign language. Since coming across the Deaf, I saw the stigma associated with deafness and indeed other disabilities. I was curious to learn about how persons with disabilities especially youth learn and get involved in leadership. I did a little research and found out that Deaf children from my village and town travel to Kitui or Machakos or Nyeri or Mombasa to attend school. Moreover parents and siblings rarely learn sign language to communicate with the deafened child. The deaf child remains neglected, distant and lags behind due to communication barrier. I also realized how far behind deaf youth are in learning about leadership, mentoring and life skills.
Your profile as an entrepreneur
I come from a small village in Machakos county Yatta subcounty, having grown up without many opportunities my parents moved to Machakos town for a chance at getting quality education for their children, better employment opportunities and growth. After the death of my uncle we took in his four children to be part of our family, this put a lot of financial strain on my parents. They struggled to make ends meet and provide for our education. In high school we relied on scholarships for our fees, bursaries and loans that my parents could get from the local cooperative of small scale farmers. We were all able to complete secondary school after I joined college I had to work part time so as to pay for my hostel and transportation to and from the campus. I sometimes help out at home farming or selling the produce. Before moving to live in the hostel I suffered great mistreatment from a relative who offered to hosting me. I did not have anyone to advice or guide me and I felt lost. I later moved out I joined a church youth group that mentored me through spiritual counseling and training. This was a turning point for me as I desired to be mentored as a young teen. I later admired the opportunity to equip other teens going through hardships or were underprivileged like I was. I was trained in life skills and the group become my support system. I later got inspiration to help troubled teens by helping them not learn from their mistakes but be able to make sober decisions.