Volunteer Edwin in Kenya

Overcoming life's challenges: Edwin's story

Edwin Mbuthia, 22, didn't expect that his experience volunteering would lead him to recognition as a 'deaf role model' - and eventually to a fulfilling job as a teacher.

Becoming deaf

I wasn’t born deaf. One day I was heading home after school and I turned the radio on. I didn’t hear anything. I had to tell the house girl that the radio wasn’t working. She said it was and we argued. I was in fourth grade, seven years old. 

My dad took me to the hospital the next day. The doctor said I lost my hearing. I couldn’t believe it. I almost cried. 

My father told me to have faith. 

A welcoming place

I had to go to a special school. My friends at home started to stay away from me. When kids raised their hands in the air, I thought they were getting mad at me.

School became the most welcoming place, where I had friends. A teacher in my class encouraged us to know that even though we were deaf, we were still good people.

I won a scholarship to the US as part of an exchange in 2010. I was taken to different communities, volunteering there and teaching them about my country, sharing my culture. The love of volunteering came to me from then.

Volunteering for deaf inclusion

As a volunteer with VSO on the Community Empowerment for Deaf Inclusion project in Nyandarua School for the Deaf, I was tasked with empowering the deaf community around the country. 

In Kenya, our community faces many problems. Deaf people are more likely to be from disadvantaged backgrounds. Often, untrained teachers are posted to teach at deaf schools. So there’s a lack of knowledge and basic skills.

I did a lot. I gathered deaf youths to meet every Sunday for volleyball matches amongst themselves. They never miss it now! I established a maths club and dance club that became really popular. 

Being recognised

I was named 'Deaf Role Model’ in 2016 during International Deaf Awareness Week. I want to set a good example for young deaf children. I told them my story. I told them that they could have many talents, like dancing. I tell them to close their ears and to feel the music. They told me, 'I’ll work hard, just like my teacher'. 

Education officers were invited to the ceremony. They saw me and I secured a job with the Teacher Service Commission once my certificate came through. 

Overcoming challenges

Now I teach English, maths, life skills and social studies to deaf teenagers. 

My father inspired me to become a teacher; he is my role model. I would watch him daily and admire his passion for teaching. I know my father is very proud of me.

I want people to know that even though my life has been challenging, I have overcome it.

Could you volunteer? We regularly need experienced professionals to volunteer in our programmes around the world.

Find out more about volunteering with VSO

Read more

Celia, 12, sits in front of some damaged school tables after Cyclone Idai
© VSO/Mario Mácilau

Girls at risk worldwide as lockdown continues

Girls are at increased risk of child marriage, violence and stigma while schools remain closed. From Kenya, to Mozambique, to Nepal, find out what VSO is doing to support.

Two fisherwomen, Samngath and Thorn, smiling
©VSO/Sue Turbett

The ripple effect of volunteering

One good deed can make waves long into the future. Find out how one Cambodian community is continuing to benefit from a project that concluded in 2018.

Close up of the hands of a VSO ICS team in Battambang, Cambodia

Social inclusion, gender, and Black Lives Matter

Reflecting on our global work to address issues of diversity, inclusion, equality and anti-discrimination.