News

Community all ears to deaf initiative

Joel and Ceilidh Mwesigwa have started up Boanerges Deaf Initiative which spreads awareness for deafness equality in Uganda. Photo: Inga Williams / The Satellite
Joel and Ceilidh Mwesigwa have started up Boanerges Deaf Initiative which spreads awareness for deafness equality in Uganda. Photo: Inga Williams / The Satellite Inga Williams

WHEN your brother is beaten to death, it's difficult to find the positive.

It's even more difficult when the man's only crime was to be deaf.

For Ugandan Joel Mwesigwa, the tragic incident changed his life forever.

Since then he has devoted himself to helping deaf people in his country.

"Deaf people in Uganda are called 'kasiru', meaning 'stupid' or 'foolish'," Mr Mwesigwa said. "Deaf children are seen as evil or cursed.

"Most parents feel ashamed to have a deaf child and so the child suffers because their parents and communities reject them.

"They can be locked in a cage, starved, tied to a tree or brutally abused."

His brother, who became deaf in his early teens and had difficulty communicating, had worked as a courier in Uganda.

Police stopped him one day, suspecting him of carrying stolen goods. He could not answer their questions, and was beaten to death.

Joel Mwesigwa and his family found him and buried him at their family burial site.

The incident prompted Mr Mwesigwa to start the Boanerges Deaf Initiative, and he shared his story with community groups including Kiwanis in south-west Brisbane during a recent visit to the area.

He was joined by his wife, former Rosewood resident Ceilidh Mwesigwa - a teacher who herself was born profoundly deaf.

His not-for-profit organisation was established in 2006, to provide the best services and education possible for deaf children in Uganda and change community attitudes towards deafness.

Starting the initiative with nothing, Mr Mwesigwa began teaching deaf children under a tree in a friend's compound.

"We later moved to an abandoned building, with no windows and missing walls and operated the school out of there," he said.

It was at that time, Mrs Mwesigwa first visited the school and met her future husband during her initial trip to Uganda in 2010.

As a deaf person, the 22-year-old said she had always received overwhelming support from her family, friends and the community.

"So it was a shock to see deaf children shunned by their families and treated so badly when I first arrived in Uganda," she said.

Mrs Mwesigwa said it was the support from her own community that had inspired her to travel to Uganda and help at the school.

"I only learnt to speak five years ago, after the community raised $30,000 for me to get a cochlear implant," she said.

"It was so much given to one deaf person and I knew there were a lot more kids like me out there that needed help.

"So after that moment, I decided that I wanted to teach and help deaf children."

The organisation currently looks after 30 children at their school in central Uganda and 90 children at another facility in northern Uganda.

Still woefully underfunded, Mr Mwesigwa said the project was slowly achieving its aim of putting value on deaf people in the country.

"When parents witness the change in their children, they do away with their negative attitude," he said.

"And it particularly helps change people's mentality when they see white, deaf people like Ceilidh in their community.

Mr Mwesigwa said his dream was to build an institution where deaf children in Uganda could become self reliant.

"And create a community with no barriers, like here in Australia, where deaf people can freely associate with other hearing people."

For more information or to donate to the Boanerges Deaf Initiative, visit www.boanergesdeafinitiative.org.

Topics:  deaf, hearing impaired, uganda


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Accused in strangulation case denied bail

A 21-year-old Brassall man has been denied police bail and remanded in custody to appear in the Ipswich Magistrates Court today.

A 21-year-old has been denied police bail

Toddler taken to hospital with snake bite

The red bellied black snake caught by Christian Andersen.

Young patient assessed after puncture wounds found

Teacher sent naked pics to student, flirted on Grindr

Relationship exposed when teacher went to school's pastor

Local Partners

Former minister claims he voluntarily stopped abusing boy

A SEX OFFENDING minister was not sentenced today because he contends he voluntarily stopped the abuse against a victim, his lawyer said.

Workplace horror: Doctors use toe to replace crushed thumb

Dean Reid lost his ring fingers on both hands and his right thumb when industrial rollers he was working with closed on him in May last year.

Why National Safe Work Month is so important

Accused in strangulation case denied bail

A 21-year-old Brassall man has been denied police bail and remanded in custody to appear in the Ipswich Magistrates Court today.

A 21-year-old has been denied police bail

Toddler taken to hospital with snake bite

The red bellied black snake caught by Christian Andersen.

Young patient assessed after puncture wounds found

Teacher sent naked pics to student, flirted on Grindr

Relationship exposed when teacher went to school's pastor

WATCH: Police release CCTV footage of Goodna robbery

An armed robbery took place at the IGA in Goodna at 6am this morning (27-9-16).

Masked men armed with large hammer hold up store

Greyhound trainer has to fight for Lockyer Valley property

Greyhound trainer Tom Noble has been banned for life after the live baiting controversy.
Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times

Hearing for greyhound trainer to fight for Lockyer Valley property.

Baden-Clay decision shows appeal judges are 'out of touch'

Citing the Court of Appeal’s decision to downgrade Gerard Baden-Clay’s (pictured) murder conviction to manslaughter, Judge Clive Wall says “too much emphasis” is placed on offenders by the Court of Appeal.

Judge says some colleagues are touch with victims, community.

Classic car auction draws buyers from US, Dubai

"He wants everyone to enjoy the cars, the collection got too big'

Lady Gaga confirms Super Bowl show

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga to perform in coveted spot

Girls actors give emotional tributes to hit show

Actor Allison Williams

Actors farewell smash hit HBO show Girls after six seasons

Janet Jackson's pregnancy is 'best thing'

Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson can't wait to become a mum

Jay Z signs two-year movie and TV deal

Rapper Jay Z

Rapper Jay Z has signed a television and movie deal

Nowhere to Hyde: Matt Nable is Australia's man in demand

Matt Nable stars as Detective Gary Hyde in the TV series Hyde & Seek.

NABLE returns to the small screen amidst busy film work.

Marvel's Luke Cage S1E7: Manifest review

Mike Colter in a scene from the TV series Marvel's Luke Cage. Supplied by Netflix.

*WARNING: spoilers if you haven't seen Marvel's Luke Cage*

Beach-side real estate starts at $85k on Fraser Coast

HERVEY BAY REAL ESTATE: You can buy this townhouse in Scarness for under $300k.

Live your beach-living dream locally.

$40million hotel, shops development project for Mackay

Mt Pleasant hotel and retirement accommodation, proposed at 194-202 Malcomson St.

$40m development to take Mackay to 'the next level'

Five ways to slash household bills and save the environment

THINK GREEN: Considering the environment when building or buying your next home can save you big dollars. The Village Building Company, who is responsible for Woodlinks Village at Collingwood Park, builds homes with this front of mind.

THERE is nothing as sweet as slashing dollars from your bills.

Property 200m from ocean selling for just over $100K

BEACHCOMBER PARK: Work has started on a new $19.2 million development at Toogoom.

The estate's developer is offering huge discounts for early buyers.

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

First stages of $25 million housing development underway

New development on Madsen Rd - The Springs.

The blocks of land are much bigger than usual