A deaf couple tied the knot at the Kitale Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) in a rare marriage ceremony.
The service was also conducted in the presence of a sign language interpreter as the priest who officiated the marriage asked community members to assist them to lead comfortable lives.
The couple John Toili is a Kenyan while Susan Toili comes from Uganda.
While conducting the service, Revered Meshack Kosgei urged the community to learn sign language to communicate with the deaf who are part of society.
Rev. Kosgei explained that the biggest challenge they will face is communicating with the community members since they use sign language while most people know little to no sign language.
“Part of the community empowerment done by the church is advocating for community members to learn about sign language to communicate effectively with the deaf,” he noted.
He urged institutions to help in integrating the deaf and any other people with different disabilities.
“We would like various institutions to have in place sign language interpreters so that when the deaf come seeking for services they may be attended to without challenges,” he noted.
To assist the deaf, the priest said the church has also begun a programme of training them on home economics like farming, business and how to sustain themselves without relying on other people.
“We don’t want them to depend on people but to work and eat from their sweat,” he said.
The programme will also train students in tailoring, hairdressing, and masonry among other skills.
John and Susan Toili are among more than 50 deaf people who are members of St. Lukes Pro-Cathedral Church.
With their union, Josephine Ekesa says they will assist her in guiding the young deaf people in the church
“Since they are mature they will help me to give guidance to the younger deaf community. They will serve as an example to the other deaf community,” she pointed out.
Mrs. Ekesa is a volunteer director for the Deaf Empowerment Programme (DEEP) that the church started to enable the deaf lead normal lives.
“We are training them on various aspects. To start with personal development, to be aware of themselves and their conditions and not to look at their condition as something that makes them not to be part of the family and the community,” she explained.
Ekesa noted that since the church embraced the deaf, most of them have participated in church activities while others have tied the knot in the same church.
John and Susan’s marriage was the third marriage between the deaf that the church has so far celebrated.
The first one according to Ekesa happened 10 years ago between a deaf lady and a deaf pastor.
The couple met in a school in Uganda and while back to Kenya the Church united them in holy matrimony.
Ekesa noted that the second marriage was done three years ago between a deaf priest from the church and a lady who was neither deaf nor had any form of disability.
“John and Susan’s union is our third marriage and it is very unique since it embraces the international concept because it was a marriage between the deaf Groom from Kenya and the bride from Uganda,” she noted.
She urged more stakeholders to join efforts with the church in trying to integrate the deaf to the community noting that they face a lot of challenges.
She gave an example of the first marriage where the couple was living happily but had to close their business due to discrimination in the society and people took advantage of their condition to loot.
“In terms of love and their union they are well but challenges come up when they start performing activities in the society,” she noted.
– KNA by Moses Wekesa