Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

Signing the Way in Uganda

Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

Signing the Way in Uganda

Article excerpt

A BAG of hot chips and a mug of porridge was the only way Ceilidh O'Sullivan could let two deaf Ugandan boys know that someone cared about them.

"They sell bottles at night time for people to fill up with kerosene and take home, and that gives them enough food for the day," Ceilidh said.

"Their mother makes a porridge-like drink and her and their father sell that.

"Deaf people in Uganda are so let down that they don't think they can do anything. So, to let them know that I cared I got them some chips and let them eat that while I had some porridge I had bought from their mother."

The former Bundaberg State High student, who with the help of the Bundaberg community received a cochlear implant at the end of 2007, recently spent two months in the Ugandan capital of Kampala, helping out at a Boanerges Deaf Initiative school.

Throughout May and June, Ceilidh spent her days with 12 young Ugandans, teaching them basic skills like reading and maths and giving them a way to communicate.

"In Uganda they don't care about the deaf at all. They have no rights in the world Co they are not even allowed to get jobs," she said.

"It is the children who suffer the most because they are often hidden or shunned by their family."

Ceilidh's decision to go to Uganda was helped by a family friend who had been to the country and spoke to her about the trip.

"At first I wanted to travel with a friend, but then I heard about the struggles of the deaf in Uganda and thought it would be something I could do to help out because I am deaf as well," she said.

DURING the two months, Ceilidh spent her time getting to know the Kampala school's 12 students aged between 6 and 14, as well as walking the streets and talking to people to find deaf children who would benefit from the school.

"One girl, Rehena, was living just around the corner from me," she said.

"But it took almost a month for me to find out she was there because everyone is so quiet about the deaf."

When Ceilidh found out where Rehena was living, she took her to the free school where the young girl began to settle in.

"She was just so happy to have somewhere to go where people would talk to her and look after her," Ceilidh said. …

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