Florence Pakata: I did not let deafness halt my dreams
By Brigid Chemweno
| January 25th 2017
Florence Pakata, 50, from Kakamega County became deaf at the age of seven.
She had to contend with many obstacles along her path but she remained focused and today holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum studies and is a curriculum developer at Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development.
I became deaf after a battle with malaria and this changed my life. My confidence took a dip and I found I was always embarrassed because I could not hear and this became worse as my friends started to shun me.
People thought I was cursed and my parents also faced rejection in the village. The villagers referred to me as a mad child and they did not allow their children to play or associate with me. I almost gave up on my life but this changed after I was admitted to Mumias School for the deaf where I learned sign language.
I took to my studies seriously and consistently did well in my studies which got me selected to join St Mary’s Mumias Girls Secondary school. My teachers encouraged me and this inspired me to be focused.
After high school, I wanted to further my studies but several colleges refused to admit me in their institutions because of my condition. However, I was lucky to be accepted at Sang’alo Institute of Agriculture and Technology where I graduated with a certificate in agriculture after two years in the college.
Although I performed well, I did not get a job and after staying at home for three years, my father took me to Machakos Teachers Training College where I trained as a primary school teacher. I was later posted to Mumias School for the deaf.
In 1997, I joined the Kenya Institute of Special Education for my Diploma in Special Education. Later, I went to Kenyatta University for my Degree in Education specialising on special needs-hearing impairment. Then in 2014, I enrolled for my Master’s Degree in Curriculum Studies at the University of Nairobi.
I have, for the past ten years, worked at KICD as a curriculum developer and my work entails writing books in sign language for learners with hearing impairment across all cadres of education.
My message to anyone with a disability is: Accept yourself and be strong to face the world because we do not have a society for persons with disabilities. We are all equal and we must raise our children in the right way.
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