Eric Ngabonziza is deaf and he is 21 years old. He was trained in Technical Secondary School (TSS) where he graduated back in 2012 with A level in Masonry. He applied for job with various construction companies which always turned him down. His sin is only he cannot communicate like the “others”. Here below is his testimony.
I was born in 1993 and at the age of four, my parents discovered that I am deaf so they sent me to a special school for primary education. When I completed the primary though I was among the best, my parents chose to keep me near home that I was enrolled in a regular private school for first and second level of high education. The first challenge for me was to be surrounded by hearing people who point at you and everybody expects to be able to talk.
I had been taken at several occasions as disrespectful by teachers or other members of the school management. I was taken to the headmaster for defending my case. Fortunate enough, the headmaster would explain that I am deaf and I was sent back to class without any harm. I was hardly accepted by both teachers and students and it was not easy to interact with my fellow students and teachers who are ignorant of sign language. I used to read teachers’ lips and if I was not lucky he would turn away and I would be lost.
After the O level, I chose technical education as my career which was also completed successful without any problems. Thereafter I started looking for a job, first job found ; I was fired out because my way of communication would distract other workers. The second job, I was denied because I couldn’t write or read Kinyarwanda or French whilst I was trained in English.
Finally, the last tentative I was asked to wait and any time I tried to follow it up, I was again told to wait for an extra time till I gave up. Wherever I apply for a job people say ‘you are deaf no please we can’t employ you simply because you can’t communicate with us’. So I ask ‘Are we condemned’ ? Can’t we also be given a chance and be accommodated ?’ When are our problems going to be solved ?’ It is not joke we demand our right to education, to health and to employment, give us equal opportunities !”