This post comes from a YES Alum named Ashiru who talks about his experience in Nigeria as a deaf man. Along with some other YES Alumni, Ashiru has been able to make significant changes in Nigeria’s deaf community.

deaf blog post 

Just last year I had the opportunity to attend the 22nd Association of Deaf Muslim Unity Nigeria’s annual conference, which was held at Gusau Zamfara State, Nigeria from December 23-31, 2013. I enjoyed volunteering there! Especially, by helping the registrars as well as running some errands to the president of Nigerian Deaf Muslims, Alhaji Suleiman Dagbo.

The program went very well. More than 21 states attended the event. The total number of the delegates that attended is estimated around 600, from various states of Nigeria. This was where I got the chance to meet YES Alumni, Abdulsalam Abubakar of 2004-2005 and Garba Mikailu of 2008-2009.

Abdulsalam, who sat with me for most of the conference, had given me a brief story of his life since his return from the United States. When he had returned from the U.S., he found out that the Deaf Association of Sokoto State was in serious chaos. He was then asked to lead the association to try and get things in order. He was installed as an interim chairman for the next six months. After six months, Abdulsalam was appointed as the Secretary General for the Sokoto State Association of the Deaf. He has continued to be the Secretary General since first starting in 2006.

By January 2006, he gained employment at Sokoto North Local Government Area, as assistant social welfare worker. He is still working at that Local Government.

After Abdulsalam graduated his senior secondary school, he tried very hard to get admission into Shehu Shagari College of Education at Sokoto State. But due to discrimination towards the deaf, he was not allowed to study there. Although frustrated, Abdulsalam did not give up. He stood there insisting they gave him admission, along with 10 other deaf people. He studied there from 2005 to 2008, without interpreters. Fortunately today, there are more than 100 deaf people studying at Shehu Shagari College of Education. With this number of deaf people increasing this has led to a Department of Special Education opening.

After Abdulsalam graduated from college, he led a petition against the government of Sokoto for denied disabilities job opportunity. He was successful in his attempt. The government then released at least 33 people with disabilities into civil service.

Abdulsalam is also the acting President of Sokoto State Deaf Muslim.

Garba Mikailu is currently working in Special Education, school for the deaf in the Gusau Zamfara state.That was where the conference took place. He is living at the staff quarter Special Education Gusau, so I was able to meet him frequently.

One day I went to his room in the morning where he told me a brief story of his life. He explained that when he returned, he continue with his school until he graduated. He graduated in 2010 and during that year he volunteered teaching at Special Education Gusau Zamfara State.

Garba was lucky to find someone that hired him to give home lessons for deaf children. That is where he earned his money to transport from home to school. The rest of the money he didn’t use for transportation he would save, which aided him to get into college.

While teaching, he applied for another teaching opportunity through Universal Basic Education SUBEB ­(UBE-SUBEB) with his senior secondary school qualifications along with some of certifications he had received from the YES program.

After two years, he received a job offer from UBE-SUBEB. At the moment it was very difficult for people with senior secondary school qualifications to get a job. Garba is one of the utmost luckiest people that was accepted. He started getting paid last year in January. Garba will graduate from Federal College of Technical Gusau Zamfara State this year.

On the last day of the conference was when we took some pictures together. Each of us said, “We indeed are lucky, if it were not for YES we would never have been able to have those great experiences in our lives. YES program gave us the reason to do those things and there are more we are looking forward to do…”

Conclusively, we are grateful for the YES program, we will still keep sending you good news about us.

By Ashiru Abubakar

During Ashiru’s time in the United States, he lived in Illinois and attended the Illinois School of Deaf in 2011-12. IRIS is committed to recruiting students like Ashiru who have overcome diversity and are making a difference in their home countries. Consider hosting one of our YES students for the 2014-2015 school year, and share your life with a future global leader. Visit our website or e-mail for more information!

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