• Vanessa Nakitende

Where it all began

Siloam means sent and 256 is the area code for Uganda as we believe we have been sent to Uganda in support of the deaf community.

Our journey begins with a single story - Gordon’s story. After hearing his brother Eric speak about his talents, educational background and future goals, I was disappointed to learn that Gordon was unemployed because he is deaf. At the same time, I was compelled to learn how I could make a difference in his circumstance. Gordon’s story spoke to me as I imagined myself being limited by circumstances I had no control over yet, I present the same capabilities as my peers. This seemed unfair to me yet easily changeable.

This was the catalyst for my research into the deaf community of Uganda. After speaking to young people with hearing impairments, I learnt that there is a need to support individuals after formal education and those who have not had the opportunity to acquire or nurture their skills. The primary, secondary and vocational schools gave me hope of the security for the future for youth living with hearing impairments in Uganda. Various organisations have been set up in aid of the deaf community however; resources do not always reach everyone in need of support.

The conversations I had, further highlighted the underlying discrimination within the society; the general lack of awareness of the abilities of deaf people, and the challenges faced by employers in hiring deaf employees. Not only do parents and family members not learn sign language, they often do not have the financial capacity to do so. They also do not relate their children's hearing impairment to a disability which requires a different teaching or training in order to develop their skills.

All this knowledge about Gordon, the deaf community in Uganda and the society's acceptance towards deaf people produced Siloam:256. We are a small team working to equip youth who are deaf in rural and urban regions of Uganda with skills. This is beginning with sign language for the individuals who have not had the opportunity to learn from a young age. We are also looking to skill our young people with vocational (starting with culinary skills) and entrepreneurial skills (including finance management) before supporting their integration into their communities to run and manage their own micro business with the support of their families. We believe this is a proactive measure to educating their communities and supporting them to become financially sustainable.

Reaching this point has come with it’s challenges some of which include:

· Self-doubt and imposter syndrome – Are we capable of doing this?

· Other people are already doing this – We don’t need more people in this area

· Finances – a project of this capacity requires money and a lot of it!

But we have chosen not believe that we will not limited by our circumstances. There is a need! We have done the research and have been blessed with a team who go above and beyond to make sure things are done on time . However, although our vision is tangible, we need your support to achieve our goal. Please support us by purchasing our products, donating to our crowd funding page and liking and sharing our pages to keep updated on our progress.

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