Mungudit developed hearing loss around one year of age. Now 13 years old, he attends primary school some ten kilometres from his village in Nebbi District, but he is hindered by his ear problem.
Nebbi is part of the West Nile region in Northern Uganda, where Signal and its partner Signhealth Uganda help deaf and hearing impaired children to stay in school and achieve. West Nile is remote with limited health infrastructure and is also known for hosting over one million refugees from South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi.
Mungudit’s parents, peasant farmers, took their son to the hospital, but the only treatment given was ear drops and an injection which did not help much. He reports intermittent pain and itching in his ear, which makes him very uncomfortable and disrupts his home and school chores and his progress as a talented athlete.
The long distance to school prevents Mungudit from returning home and eating a meal at lunchtime too. His class teacher explains that these challenges, combined with worries about his ear problem and the stigma attached to this, have affected his schoolwork. Deep-rooted beliefs in witchcraft in the region mean that deaf people are often regarded as cursed.
Signhealth Uganda carried out deaf awareness and inclusive communication training in Mungudit’s school. Since then he has been receiving constant support and guidance from his teachers, who did not want to lose “such a promising footballer and courageous boy.”
Mungudit’s class teacher has linked up with his parents to encourage safe ear cleaning, and the family has requested a hearing assessment. With renewed confidence thanks to support from both his teachers and his parents, Mungudit’s talent has shone through and he was selected to represent Nebbi Municipality in a national football league competition.
His dad John is proud of him, as “a very hardworking boy who is an inspiration among his peers.”
We are delighted to have received the backing of The True Colours Trust for our work in Northern Uganda, as the trust fulfils an ambition to expand its support in Africa to include disabled children.
Headline photograph: Mungudit at a league match where he scored a goal.