How much of our identity is attached to our names? Isn’t it true that our names give us distinction and help us feel valued as an individual? They’re so attached to our person that we hardly ever think about our names at all.
But this isn’t so true for some deaf children. Rob Myers of DOOR International explains that the reality is many deaf children don’t even know what it means to have a name.
Up until he was seven years old, this was the reality for Njoroge in Kenya. He grew up surrounded by hearing people. Nobody, not even his teacher, knew sign language. It’s an understatement to say that schooling was difficult. But then one day, one of DOOR’s 2×2 team — a church planting, leadership training, and evangelism initiative — met Njoroge.
“At that point, the team actually gave him a name. He didn’t have a sign name up to that point, he didn’t have a name in his own language and he really didn’t even understand what it meant to have a name,” Myers says.
It turns out, Njoroge’s situation up to this point is pretty typical for deaf children worldwide. Myers says, “It’s estimated that about 20% of deaf children actually have access to education in a sign language environment. A lot of research has shown if students don’t have access to sign language when they’re trying to learn written language, they don’t actually acquire language very easily.”
Sometimes, parents even hide these children away because they are ashamed to have a child who can’t hear.