More than 150 people with hearing impairment have benefited from Sh3 million worth of equipment to start businesses and empower them to make a living.
The Deaf Society of Kenya (DESK) and the United Nations Development Programme donated water pumps, saloon equipment, sewing machines, generators and shaving machines, seeds for farming, rabbits and chicken among others.
Each of the 151 beneficiaries from across the country had been taken through one-month training on entrepreneurship to acquire the necessary skills to start-up businesses.
DESK CEO Jacob Ireri said the initiative seeks to put the deaf at par with the rest of the population and to help them grow and sustain their business to eradicate poverty in their lives.
He said they will work closely with national government coordinators to ensure the equipment is used for the intended purposes and that they do not sell or lent them out.
“Our staff knows where each of them come from or where they want to establish their businesses. We shall be monitoring to ensure they don’t sell the equipment. There will also be evaluation of the projects that they will initiate to measure success,” he said.
He called on the government to come up with more programmes that can empower such people so that they can support their families.
He lamented the government has failed to employ sign language interpreters in all its offices making it difficult for the deaf to access such offices.
“We are forced to hire sign language interpreters to help these people when they are in need of services in government offices. These services should be provided by the Government and we appeal that they move with speed and employ more interpreters,” he said.
Racheal Waithera a jewelry seller from Nairobi said the skills acquired from the entrepreneurship course and the equipment received will boost her as she re-establishes her beauty shop that collapsed a year ago.
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She said she is now better equipped with skills to manage a business and hopes that her new ventures will be a success. She benefited from some jewels and cosmetic products.
Omari Ali Tandara from Mombasa County who seeks to establish a shaving shop echoed similar sentiments.
Statistics from DESK show that out of the 800,000 deaf people in the country, only about 20,000 are employed.