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Achieving Woman

Life beyond hearing impairment

My name is Georgine Obura, the sixth born child in a family of ten. I was born and raised in Nyanza but schooled in Kakamega.

Growing up was fun. I was chatty, playful girl who was always full of mischief. I also loved my big, merry family where we would spend the evenings narrating stories while seating around the fireplace.

However, my happiness did not last long after I developed mumps when I was nine years old. I received treatment but after two weeks when the inflammation disappeared, my world suddenly went silent. I could not hear anything, the noise, the laughter - everything. I was deaf.

Even after visiting several hospitals, we could not find treatment. The doctors only gave me hearing aids which still, could not help. However, because I could not communicate, I was made to carry the gadgets everywhere.

When schools opened, still I could hear nothing and my grades drastically dropped. I remained in the school and eventually started lip-reading. I could now ‘hear’ a few words from teachers.

My friends disappeared slowly because of the language barrier and I was always alone. The situation pushed me to get hooked to books and any other reading material that I could get my hands from.

My grades improved because I read a lot, I no longer went for breaks as the others did since they could not even understand me no matter what. I had to double my efforts in class since I could neither hear no understand what was being taught in class.

In high school, my parents once again took me to a hearing school. While I struggled to catch up with the others, my efforts bore fruit after I scored an A- in KCSE.

I would have loved to pursue a course in chemical engineering at university but was hindered by my hearing impairment. I instead opted for a Bachelor of Special Needs Education option at Moi University.

Today I teach at Ngala School for the Deaf and I am passionate about helping my hearing impaired students realise there is life and aspirations beyond hearing impairment.

As a result, I have formed an organisation, Deaf Girls Education, which seeks to empower deaf girls to go to school and better their lives.

I want to eradicate the notion that many people still believe that deaf people can only become tailors and carpenters. If mentored well, they can also become doctors and engineers in the society.

- Caroline Chebet

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