NIYONSENGA Pascal’s Story Posted January 7, 2014 by Chris Kubwimana

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Below is the story of a young man who was born in Rwanda and after becoming Deaf then went to live in Burundi. We have not edited the story at all because we wanted you to get the story exactly in his own words. It is amazing and demonstrates why Aurora Deaf Aid Africa is working with the Deaf community in Burundi and in the future other areas in Africa.

A TRUE STORY OF HOW I LOST MY HEARING

Born hearing in 1993 in the western of RWANDA I take the 4th-place in my family ,I have 5 sisters and 4 brothers we grew in the family that was not very rich but we had all we needed, before the RWANDAN Genocide 1994 we lived in the country side next to our grandparents and my fathers brothers and sisters, my fathers brothers were killed during the genocide and my fathers also was injured but by lucky he was recovered soon, Earlier in 1998 we moved to live in the town where we lent a house, my family members are protestants(pentecotiste) I started school earlier in 2000, at the age of 6 I was enrolled in nursery school, I went on learning until I became a brilliant pupil I was very intelligent that I could get 100% in the nursery school, the school year 2000-2001 I pass in primary 1,I continued doing well at school until I was in p3,the year of 2003 was a bad year to my family, first my mother had car accident in BURUNDI she was the only survivor, secondly my father was infected with a bad disease that took him about 2 months in hospital the third in the middle of July I was infected by meningitis which caused me to lose my hearing
HOW I BECAME A DEAF
I became deaf by meningitis, this how it happened
It was in the middle of July and We were in the summer holiday I had completed P3 and I was aiming to pass in P4 the school year that would follow, It was Friday there were not water at home I had to join my friends and go to fetch water about 1,500 m from my house, after fetching water i was not felling were as before ,I immediately enter in my room and took rest, mom called me to help her doing something, I did it as she wanted and I returned in my room it was about 1pm,i was not used to sleep afternoon but that day I slept until mom sent my little brother to call me for dinner although I went for dinner I was not feeling any appétit since I was not feeling well at that time, I stayed in the bed Friday night Saturday and Sunday, from that day I don’t know how I was taken to the hospital until 3 weeks passed, by the grace of God the creator of universe I was breathing again after the 3rd- week but could not see there was a religious group that was praying for me as days went on I was recovering and soon I could see, the medicines tested me but they found that I had lost my hearing, I was taken at home but I was not healed enough to go home it was because mom had spent all he had to save the life of her son, as days went on I was returning back to normal until I could walk and talk but could not hear,

AT School after becoming deaf
I hated being deaf at first, I was very worried of how I will be able to study and communicate with other classmates, everyone was very sorry for me all the teachers who had taught me knew me before as a brilliant child, before I became deaf I was very known at the school I attended the reason was that I was keen on football and others school sports ,at the beginning of 2003-2004 school year I was on the list of pupils who would pass p3 to p4 at that time I was absent I didn’t go to school a whole week. One day the teacher asked where I was ,some of pupils who used to be my friends and who knew what happened to me told her that I had lost hearing ,she was very sorry for me, I stayed at home but I always wished to go to school, I liked school more than anything else, As my brother, sisters and my neighbors friends left home for school I would follow them but my mom would stop me to following them I did this every day until mom was tired and let me follow them, one day mom decided to take me to school I was accepted and started p4,

In BURUNDI
I had never been out of Rwanda since my birth, but one day I was surprised by my mom taking me in a neighbouring county of Rwanda ‘’Burundi’’ I didn’t know what Burundi looked like but I found that Burundi was a very nice country with lovely people although it is a poor country
My mother had friends in Burundi who told her about deaf school that would help me go on with my studies, Earlier in February 2004 mom took me at ECOLE EPHPHATHA POUR LES SOURDS(one of the well known school of the deaf in Burundi) which is located in the community of the American missionary CARL JOHNSON in the capital of Bujumbura 6 miles from the central market of Bujumbiura, this school belongs to the Brethren church it was established by an American named ANDREW FOSTER who also had already established other Ecole Ephatha in Africa he was the chairman of Christian mission of the deaf, although I was new in Burundi I was also very afraid because there were no peace in BURUNDI during that year, I was accepted at that deaf school, mom paid everything and left me at school I started P3 with my favorite old man teacher BENJAMIN
AT ECOLE EPHPHATHA POUR LES SOURDS
I was not used to see deaf around me while I was hearing ,but at Ephatha I don’t know how I can tell you, I saw many children signing but couldn’t get what they meant ,to me It was like that I was blind and my eyes turned open and see new thing around me, at that time it was very difficult to communicate with them they used sign language and write only in French but I only knew Kinyarwanda and I didn’t know sign language I did my best and use a few of French I knew which helped me to commutate with my new friends but there were also some who didn’t know to write they signed but I could not get them as I was very poor in sign language but to be honest I liked these new friends of mine,they were happy to have me at their school they start teaching me sign language it was very difficult to memorize them but I tried and learn as it was my duty and benefits as days went on I started to be keen on sign language and i liked more and more them
Noel NTUNGWANAYO one of the leaders of EPHPHATHA this man had been working at that school since it was established and he is the one I cant tell you who know many about deaf, we like this man because it was him who brought many deaf in Burundi to JESUS, pupils of EPHPHATHA were very Christians and they remain Christian today that is why I like this school, Noel offered his time teaching us God’s word I thank this man, he is the one who brought me to Jesus and I thank God for leading me to meet him, until today he still works at EPHPHATH and his duty is to care and teacher deaf children about God
INTEGRATING THE HEARING SCHOOL
I continued my studies at EPHPHATHA until I completed P6,I was very sorry the raison is that there were no secondary school for the deaf in BURUNDI this was sad to me because I was about to leave my favorite school and my friends, at EPHPHATH after P6 there are 2years vocation training but this program didn’t fit me, the headmaster sent a letter to my parents asking them to look for me where I can go on with secondary school but my parents couldn’t get him as they didn’t believe deaf attend hearing school maybe they asked themselves’’’how will someone who doesn’t hear study among the hearing?’ they found that it was impossible and the final decision was that I had to return attending 2 years vocation training at EPHPHATH,I returned in Burundi and did 1 years and a half as a tailor but I didn’t like that at all
FABIEN HAMISSI
FABIEN HAMISSI should be called a deaf hero for his worthy praise works, this man is one of the deaf in BURUNDI who earlier attended secondary with the hearing ,He is a good looking guy with respect and love and care everyone he is now Executive Director of BNAD,I was very pleased to met him at his office and told him about me going to high school we didn’t talk too much he immediately accepted to assist me it was on Friday about 11am he told me to go home and return at his office the following Monday at 8:am,I was very happy for that opportunity to go to high school, now Fabien still works with the deaf he has brought many deaf to high level today
MY new secondary school G.I.B which stands for (Group Intercontinental de Bujumbura)On Monday morning I was already at Fabien’s office I couldn’t wait me get to school, Fabien and his interpreter arrived on time and they accompanied me, I was accepted at school and i started secondary that day, I liked school more than anything else, everyone was surprised at the end of the first term I was the 2nd- of the class from now my parents agreed that I was capable to attend any school they also started to assist me, I continued my studies until I was in 9th- class I moved to E.I.C.B, there I studied 10th-class in the 10th- we had to do national Examination after class 10 I moved to St Charles where I am now doing computer science and management, I was also pleased to met CHRISTOPHE KUBWIMANA and KAMALA ACHOU, this CHRISTOPHE KUBWIMANA has been studying at EPHPHATH many years ago but he immigrated in UK and stay there after his BA degree he established an organization called A.D.A.A which stands for Aurora Deaf Aids Africa he is now working as chairman of A.D.A.A,KAMALA Achou is also a good woman from UK who works with D.D.P Disability and Development Partner she works with many centre of disabilities here in BURUNDI, now I am so thankful to everyone who encouraged and assisted me concerning school including FABIEN HAMISSI,CHRIS KUBWIMANA and KAMALA,EPHPHATHA,ANSB and ALLOW THE CHILDREN, now I promised myself to be a future leader of the deaf
ALLOW THE CHILDREN BURURNDI
When I was studying 8th-class I returned to live at EPHPHATHA in the community of the American missionary CARL JOHNSON where I met JIM BROOK& his wife VICKI BROOK, the BROOK’S is missionary from USA VA who works in a NGO’s called ALLOW THE CHILDREN, I liked this family very much for they care everyone who was in need one day I was pleased to get letter from the BROOK’S informing me that I had get a sponsor who will be assisting me, while staying at EPHPHATH I had to pay for housing 20.000bf per month and then 60.000bf to school and keep with me more than 50.000bf for personal needs it was to much that I sometimes fail to afford this,
MAMAN SARAH(SUSAN) & HER SON NATHAN MAY EDOUARD
It was a blessing to me having new friends as days went on, one day God brought Susan and her son Nathan in Burundi to work with the Brook’s, mama Sarah is a good woman who always smile and talk gently to everyone I was pleased to have her I taught her sign language she is a good pupil so does her son Nathan, Nathan was my best friend and he still remain a friend to me, we spent most of our time together chatting or playing soccer, Nathan is very keen on football everyone at EDS like him although he doesn’t sign much better he tried and everyone get him, I was born In Rwanda but I like Burundi now more than Rwanda, Burundi is everything to me although it s a poor country, Burundi gave me a lot of friends I cannot count them, BURUNDI welcomed me, every person I meet in Burundi he/she likes me and become a friend of mine I attend the hearing school, everyone like me at school, when many of my friends miss me they send me text and ask me to visit them, BURUNDI brought me Americans ,English ,Spanish friends, Burundi brought me to Jesus ,Burundi taught me to love, respect and to be kind to everyone Burundi likes me and sponsored me
BEING DEAF IS MY PROUD NOW
1. I hated being deaf at first more than I hated other things and before I became deaf I myself thought that there were not many deaf in my country or anywhere else , ears are important organs of the body when someone loses them she/he will not be happy, but for me I think It was God’s plans for me to loose my hearing ,I hated this but when I get at Ephphath and as my friendship with deaf was little in progress I stopped worrying, today it s been 10 year living with deafness I can say that I am now used to be deaf and now being deaf is my proud and I am not afraid of being deaf I can do anything hearing people do, with my hands I sing ,I pray and I give praises to God, and with my hands I can do whatever job hearing people do ,I play soccer, basketball and I can play whatever game hearing can play, I attend school, I read ,I write ,I get more than 3 languages as the hearing do ,what is the different between the hearing and me? some people think that someone who is deaf is as a foolish or stupidity or he/she is not important in the community but those people are like blind they should be born again, many deaf attend now inclusive education and when the school resultants come you find that many deaf get good resultants than the hearing, I do not know what to do so that all people grant us access to freedom and respect us as they respect others ,if I was the president I would have established a law that punish a person who will dare make fun of a deaf people ,all those people who do not care about deaf and do whatever acts that do not please the deaf will be punished, on my behalf I find that It would be wise to organize a workshop for advocate, lobbying and awareness to invite all key leaders in the countries societies, government and other NGOs so that they can be sensitized and informed about deafness and their needs. It is obvious that the human rights for people with disabilities are not respected in all spheres of social, economic,no one will make me angry because he/she insults’’’you deaf’’ or claims himself that deaf is useless I will tell him that being deaf is a proud to me ,and God has a good plans for deaf lives God had a purpose for us before he made us therefore me BEING DEAF IS MY PROUDI am so thankful to God for all his plan for my life This is the end of my life story,

GOD IS EVERYTHING TO ME
Written by NIYONSENGA PASCAL