A Shared Hope for the Future: Nassir’s Story

by Cynthia Bauer, Kupenda Founder and Executive Director

Cindy and Nassir

In mid-November I was able to visit Kenya and had the privilege of spending a little time with a young man named Nassir and his family. Nassir is one of the first students Kupenda supported and is now 22 years old. He is a perfect example of how supporting one individual can benefit many!

Nassir in 2006

Nassir in 2006

How It Began

Nassir was born with cerebral palsy that impacted one side of his body and his speech. Although Nassir’s mother worked in farming, she was divorced, and it was difficult for her to earn enough to support Nassir and her other three children.

With the support of a Kupenda sponsor, however, Nassir was able to attend the Gede Special School and receive an education, medical care, and counseling about his rights. Nassir flourished in this new environment. He particularly loved participating in sitting volleyball, soccer, and Boy Scouts!

He also interacted with peers who had various kinds of disabilities and often helped them with their Kiswahili homework. Over time, he even began to learn sign language from one of his friends with hearing loss. At the Gede Special School, it is not uncommon for children with hearing loss to assist others physically, and for those with physical disabilities to translate speech for children with hearing loss.

Nassir in a school uniform

Nassir in a school uniform.

Hope for His Future

After many years of support, Nassir recently finished high school and would like to become a sign language interpreter. While his brother expressed concern over whether Nassir would be able to pursue this career path because of his disability, one of our team members was able to vouch for his skills. The staff member, who was fluent in sign language, asked Nassir to sign a few phrases. As Nassir began to accurately express himself in sign, his brother’s doubts diminished–as well as his former opinions of what people with disabilities could or could not do.

Making a Difference for Others

Although Kenyan Sign Language is recognized as an official language under the Kenyan Constitution, there is still  a shortage of sign language interpreters throughout the country. Nassir would be filling a great need among the deaf and hard of hearing community, ultimately fostering greater participation and inclusion. Today Nassir’s life not only serves as an example to others of what someone with a disability can do, but it demonstrates what one can do for others—all because he was given an opportunity.

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About the Authors

Cynthia Bauer, Kupenda Founder and Executive Director
Cynthia Bauer, Kupenda Founder and Executive Director

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