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Imagine a little boy who was born in a small farm village of Burundi and whose parents had an education below 5th grade. At 10 years old, this boy survived a severe illness that left him permanently deaf. By the grace of his empowering parents and supportive people around him, he managed to get an education. Now pursuing a Master of Arts in Peace and Justice Studies, Isidore Niyongabo is the founder of I.D.E.A.L.(International Deaf Education Advocacy & Leadership). Isidore is also one of 72 million deaf people worldwide, of this population about 80% of these people live in developing countries with limited access to education. If one deaf person can overcome all obstacles and reach such a high level of education, we believe this can definitely be true for others. By promoting civil empowerment through increased access to education, gender equality and initiatives for economic development in the countries of the EAC (East African Community), many other deaf people can also achieve higher education.
While some countries in the EAC such as Uganda and Kenya have interpreters training programs that educate individual service providers and thus give deaf students access to mainstream higher education, other countries such as Rwanda and Burundi have not yet established avenues of training that lead to this access. Also, many civil societies and government agencies provide health education on HIV/AIDs and Malaria, and yet deaf people do not have access to these crucial informations due to their limited literacy. I.D.E.A.L. will host a one week summit in which 50 deaf youth from the five countries of the EAC for civil empowerment. This summit will mainly focus on leadership, health education, basic human rights and basic computer skills that will enable the 50 participants to search, access and obtain information though the internet. Once trained, these youth will return to their respective countries and establish resource centers where other deaf community members will come and receive health information, counseling and educational opportunities, ultimately perpetuating continuous human advancement and development of human rights awareness.