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.
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.
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.
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.
Over five years since world leaders created the Sustainable Development Goals, with attention now focused squarely on the global pandemic, you'd be forgiven for wondering: does anyone still care about the SDGs?