The deaf Oldham volunteer who made a real difference in Kenya

Date published: 19 May 2020

Oldham volunteer Raabia Hussain has spoken of the challenges she has faced in growing up deaf, and why she decided to travel to Kenya in a bid to help change perceptions and drive change in the local community.

Raabia travelled to Africa after linking up with Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO).

They help to place young people on three-month placements abroad as part of the government-funded International Citizen Service (ICS scheme).

VSO works in Nandi, western Kenya, helping to raise the visibility of deaf people in the community.

The project Raabia got involved with helps to teach Kenyan Sign Language, increase the awareness of deaf people’s rights and challenge the stigmatisation of deaf people in the household and in the community.

Reflecting on the challenges she has faced as a deaf young woman in the UK, Raabia has spoken about her experience of growing up deaf.

She said: “I have been faced with the feeling of being isolated and left out of social interactions - so it can feel very lonely at times and depressing.

"Being deaf also means that you worry a lot about what you may have missed or might miss in any conversation or communication so you are on hyper alert, which is absolutely exhausting.”

On her placement in Kenya, Raabia said: “I felt inspired to do something about it and I could possibly give them some support by helping them."

Raabia created a documentary about her experience, called Unheard Stories: the story of Kenya's deaf and disabled.

During the coronavirus crisis, Raabia is currently helping to deliver food and medicine to elderly people in her community who are isolating and is also teaching British Sign Language classes online to parents and children.

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