Living the First Fiftheen Years of His Life in Total Silence

The story of Patrick Otema

This wonderful and moving video shows the world how Patrick, a 15-year-old boy who was born profoundly deaf, found a way to escape the fearful silence he has known his entire life. Since there are no schools for deaf children in Uganda, Patrick has never been thought Sign Language or lip reading, which is also the reality of more than four million deaf and hard of hearing people in South Africa. He was able to communicate with in father through a series of simple gestures, but he never had a conversation until the age of fifteen. He spent most of his days working in a field near his house or sat alone in his hut.

One day, Raymond Okkelo, a sign language teacher, came into Patrick’s life hoping that he could make his life easier by teaching him a few words every day. Patrick didn’t seem really excited to go to his first sign language class, but he quickly started to participate. The most heart-warming parts of this video are when Patrick’s face illuminated and when he started smiling widely. It shows how incredibly happy it made him to finally be able to learn how to communicate. He looked so proud and seemed to slowly realize that his life was starting to change for the better. I believe Okkelo’s enthusiasm and passion made him a really inspiring teacher and made a huge difference in Patrick’s learning experience.

Daniel Bogado, the director of the Channel 4 documentary, said that Patrick has “learned a lot and is doing very well.” At the begging of the video, Patrick was shy and withdrawn, but became full of confidence from the moment he started embracing with passion his new way to communicate.

This video was truly moving and I hope it will help our society realize that people with disabled conditions have the abilities to do many things, but are often not given the opportunity to display their talents.

Works Cited:

BERKE, Jamie. “Deaf Community - South Africa.” about.com. About health, 10 June, 2014. Web. 28 April 2015.

MOSBERGEN, Dominique. “This Teen Never Learned To Communicate. One Sign Language Class Transformed Him” TheHuffingtonPost.com, The Huffington Post, 13 November 2014. Web. 28 April 2015.

MAGONGWA, Lucas. “Deaf Education in South Africa” muse.jhu.edu. Project Muse, 20 December 2010. Web. 28 April 2015.

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