Tumaini's Story

I was born strong and well and did not have any problems until I was twelve years old when I started to get headaches and pains all over my body. I went to the hospital and had many injections but my illness persisted from one month to the next. By the age of thirteen, I had completely lost all my hearing in both ears. My friends left me because I could not hear and they didn’t help me at school. The teachers did not know any sign language and I failed to complete any further than Standard Four at primary school. I kept asking myself why are my friends well and I have become deaf? Between the ages of thirteen and twenty-two I stayed at home, I farmed my parent’s land and sold maandazi, but this provided me with very little money. I felt really isolated, and that no-one could help me. My mother and my sister tried to speak slowly to me, but it was still very difficult to understand and I could not communicate with them. My father did not even try to communicate with me as he just didn’t understand why I couldn’t hear.

In 2005 I was told about Neema Crafts and I immediately sent a letter to the organisation to ask for work. They wrote back and invited me to come and visit the centre. When I arrived I was surprised to see so many people who were deaf as I thought that I was the only one with this problem. It made me so happy to see different people signing and communicating without hearing. I was excited to start work, and I quickly made friends who taught me sign language. Slowly I picked it up and now I can communicate with the people around me. It is so great, and I love working here. I work in the restaurant and have many friends who I can talk to. I am not isolated any more. I have a consistent income and I, alongside my husband, can provide for my child. In the future I would like to dance with the dance group but I am worried that I am too old for this!!