Last year while at the school in the village of Meyene, we (Danielle Kaiser and I) were giving out presents to all the children at the Meyene School. We called out names and handed out school bags with toothpaste, brushes and school supplies, at the end Danielle came to me and asked me why one little boy, who stood a part from the other children did not receive a school bag.
I looked at the child and did not recognize him as one of our sponsored children, so I asked Turbo what his story was. Turbo went to the school director Pierre and questioned him, it turned out that the boy was deaf and mute and that he didn’t attend school like the other children, he was considered to be no better then an animal and treated in much the same way.
I questioned why and Pierre told me that the boys’ family was dead and that up until recently he was living at the train station. The boys’ grandfather made a plea to the chiefs and his son, requesting that the child be brought to the villages, the request was granted. I asked Pierre the child’s name, he laughed embarrassingly and said that he didn’t have one, why should he when he can’t hear it being called.
Take a moment and think about what it must have felt like to be of normal intelligence but to not have a way of communicating your thoughts, imprisoned in your own body and to be treated like an animal.
On the inside I was crying inside I wanted to yell at them and ask what was wrong with them? How can you not name a child? How can you not teach a child? How can you not feed a child? None of the questions were asked because I know there were no answers in a world where it’s survival of the fittest.
I had been to Bertoua, a fairly large city about 75km from Meyene, a number of times and knew that there was a school in the city for deaf children, so I arranged a visit and I fell in love with the children and teachers, the classes were small and the children received a great deal of attention. I knew this was the place for ...?
The child needed a name first and so I named him Francis after a Saint who looks after the deaf. Now I needed to convince the family, because Bertoua was so far it was impossible for Francis to commute so I made a promise to his Grandfather and Uncle that Francis would be well looked after with a surrogate family in Bertoua, the Grandfather and Uncle agreed that Francis would attend school in Bertoua, but Francis did own his own clothes so we took him on a shopping spree.
Francis flourished in the classroom, he was third in his class, and he lived with the Director of the school so that he could practice signing, for the first time Francis had found a home where he could communicate with people.
The school is a lot more expensive then our regular sponsored children because it includes his room, food and transport. It costs $100 to register the child and $65 a month to keep him in school and this year we have one other little boy who lost his hearing to meningitis, his name is Armstrong and he will need to attend the same school. I know that $65 a month is a lot for some people, but maybe if 18 people take one month then we can continue to help these children. Please consider sponsoring one of our special needs children.
UPDATE: THANK YOU TO TWO GENEROUS SPONSORS BOTH OUR SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN WILL BE TAKEN CARE OF THIS YEAR. MANY THANKS FROM OKALA!!
February 16th Join us at the Crest Hotel in Prince Rupert, for an international buffet created by local and international Chefs. Live auction, lots of beautiful items up for bid. An inspired live music performance with an Okala flavour by some of Rupert's talented youth, a night to remember. Tickets are $50 per person, contact Willy Beaudry.