Jackson’s Story

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Jackson Musyoka was born in Kenya from the Kamba peoples. Jackson attended our volunteer training programme in Morpeth. He told us why he became interested in volunteering to support deafblind people:

“I first became aware of these problems when I was a boy at home in Mbitini village in Kenya. I remember I was about 9 years old. There was a 40 year old deaf man who also had not learnt how to speak who had no one to help him. My family decided to look after him. He had some gestures he used and I quickly learnt them and we became good friends. My family saw that we could communicate with each other very well and used to ask me to interpret for them. With the support of my family he was able to get work on the farms around our village. We had lots of laughs together as I could understand his gestures and his lip patterns. Now I volunteer with a deafblind man in Northumberland and I want to know more.”

Rob’s Story

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Rob has been volunteering for over 20 years. His first volunteering role was as a youth and community volunteer in North Somerset. After volunteering to work with troubled young people in North Somerset, Rob then volunteered for the Manic Depression Fellowship (now Bipolar UK), and Mencap Gateway. Since moving to Northumberland he has continued volunteering. This includes being a telephone befriender with a local Blind Association’s Sight Line, a befriender with their Social Eyes group, plus numerous church and community groups.

Rob developed Retinitis Pigmentosa as a young boy and is now totally blind. He undertook our deafblind awareness training and feels the training has certainly raised his awareness of deafblindness.

“Some of our groups include people with both sight and hearing difficulties. I am now more aware of the deafness aspects than before. For example, we used the training to help us find a more suitable venue for one of our groups. Some members were finding it difficult to take part when there is background noise.  We found a pub with good natural light, which helps some of the group to see our faces better, and where the music is really discreet so we can hear each other better. It’s the practical tips from your training that have really helped.”

“One of the things I really enjoy about volunteering, even when it is telephone or internet based, is sharing good stories. With the training, if I am asked to buddy a deafblind person I will now be more confident and at least we will be able to have a good conversation using deafblind communication.”