• Social responsibility

Reverend Muhoro school for the deaf

Last year I visited, with some friends, the Reverend Muhoro School for the Deaf in Nyeri, Kenya. Their student body has grown from one deaf boy in 1988 to the current 264 boys and girls today. This school accepts students from high-school age only. Our motivation to visit this school of 264 students was to bring sanitary towels and panties to the young girl students. Due to limited funding and absence of sanitary towels, these girls are absent from school, for the duration of their period, every month. They are then isolated to an area (under a tree) to sit until their menstruation is complete.
This understandably causes a huge disruption in their already lacking education. Most of the students of Reverend Muhoto School for the Deaf come from poor families and therefore have no former schooling or coaching in sign language or braille prior to joining the school.

We were welcomed into the school and we took the liberty of spending the day looking at their classrooms, accommodation and dining hall and interacting with students. Most of the facilities were run-down and in dire need of upgrading. The students were very friendly and during the lunch, we sat and tried our best to ask them about their ambitions in life. All these kids had dreams and hopes like any ‘normal’ hearing student would have. Some wanted to be actors, dentists, teachers, secretaries and so on... Reality was the most of these young people, become the outcasts of society and land up being farmers, carpenters, hair weavers and seamstresses – regardless of their accomplishments at the school. In fact, as their teachers explained that most of the girls would be pregnant at 14, 15 and 16 and stuck in the slums washing clothes for families all their lives. The prospect of decent employment is almost zero. They would be abandoned and alone and their reality would be a life on the streets - completely alone, and undoubtedly with children, without husbands and fathers. No amount of hope that the school offers these kids once they leave, can protect them from the reality of a decent life in Kenya.

Reverend Muhoro School for the Deaf Driving back, we were all quiet and I realized that here
in Kenya, three quarters of the population is living below the poverty line, so these youngsters had no chance at all in the prospect of a proper life.

Communicating during my brief visit was extremely challenging and I knew that these vibrant youngsters, with all their dreams, have that exact reality the minute they leave the gate of their school – with everybody!

During a structural change at Dilpack Kenya earlier this year, where we introduced more shifts in a three weekly cycle, we discussed the possibility of employing deaf people.

Why? But really - Why not?

We believe in Fair Trade, Fair Employment, Fair Conditions – right? So why not open our employment to less privileged people?

Reverend Muhoro School for the Deaf We contacted a friend who introduced us to the Muhoro School for the Deaf (where she was a hearing student 10 years ago), and asked her how to get into contact with hearing impaired single mothers who needed a job! With very little effort we were able to offer employment in our Sleeve Forming Area to four young, deaf, single moms that otherwise had no prospect for employment. (Three of these ladies are single, unmarried mothers and one of them is suffering from HIV).

Maria Lukhuyachi, Jane Awuor Omondi, Gladys Nyawira and Susan Wanjiku were welcomed to Dilpack Kenya!

Initially it was tricky to communicate their duties but soon other staff members took their hands and by means of broken signing and funny written dialect instructions, they were on their way. Now four months later, we are proud to say that our ‘ladies’ are happy, doing well, functioning above expectation and for the first time in their lives are now self-sustaining members of their community.

To these ladies, we’ve made a difference and that’s always Fair!