Special In Our Hearts
by Fred Sadia
Every year, Ndoto announces sponsorship opportunities for bright students who have financial need. Young people stream into the Ndoto offices to acquire the application forms hoping that they will qualify to join the Ndoto family. The staff then commences the vigorous selection process that lasts for several weeks and ultimately culminates in the final list of accepted students.
During the selection process we meet students who have been neglected, rejected, and isolated. In addition to paying school fees, Ndoto helps them understand that they are special in the sight of God and worthy in the hearts of many. This applies doubly so for the special needs students we meet.
In Kenya, people with special needs are usually looked down upon in the streets, in work places, at school, and at home. Some parents who give birth to kids with special needs opt to keep them hidden at home for fear of prejudice or stigmatization. The cost of educating children with special needs is also high, to the disadvantage of poor families, and thus these children are abandoned to their fate. It usually does not turn out well.
Gloria, (pictured), has a hearing impairment. He dropped out of high school because he could not afford to pay his fees at the special school for the deaf. He joined Ndoto last year and was enrolled at a technical training institute for the deaf. Now he is pursuing an artisan course in motor vehicle mechanics. With schools closed in Kenya due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gloria spends his time working at a construction site. He uses the money he earns to buy food for his guardian, who has four children to care for. He is pleased to be part of Ndoto and says that he never imagined for a moment that he would get a second opportunity at school. He is absolutely excited to be learning new things day by day and experiencing the love of God every minute of his life.
When we visited last, I wrote a note on a piece of a paper and showed it to him. “You are special in our hearts, Gloria.” The smile I received assured me that he indeed believes that he is special and that he is loved.
Linda, Valary, and Sarah (from left to right) joined Ndoto in 2014, 2019, and 2016. All have hearing impairments and are part of the Ndoto family. Linda is currently in high school and just loves to smile. Valary will be joining school in January when school reopens, and Sarah goes to a special primary school for the deaf. Mama Bon, the Ndoto staff who takes care of them, says that she feels re-energized by serving them and she knows without a doubt that they feel special. “When I meet them, I’m always excited to learn how to interact with them, to get to understand their feelings, and to help them vocalize it. I just love them,” she says.
|Tony in 2012 and last year|
|Exodus helps Ndoto translate into KSL for our deaf students|
Working with special needs students holds a dear place in our hearts. We feel an extra calling to provide for these wonderful young people who have extra obstacles in their paths. We hope to continue to expand the work we do with both special needs and vocational-training students. In 2011, we became aware of Tony, a younger brother to one of our students, who had special needs. We accepted him into our program without a second thought, and word quickly spread in the community that Ndoto would treat special needs students equally and care generously for them. We now have several, and are further blessed to have a student and volunteer who “speaks” Kenyan Sign Language.