Your remember the old question we were urged by some to ask when facing a challenging situation? “WWJD – What Would Jesus Do?” In Senegal as in most of the developing countries of Africa, when a child is born deaf, there is little or no hope for them to ever have a real life, let alone an education or a chance to contribute positively to society. At best, families restrict them to the confines of their meager family home, struggling to feed yet another mouth with too little or no dependable income.
Mathuro was such a child. He is 13 and has been profoundly deaf from birth. He came to ERDS for the first time three years ago. ERDS is an acronym in French that stands for the “Renaissance School for the Deaf.” or the School for the reawakening/rescue of the deaf. In the short time that he has been in school, he has learned to communicate well in sign language, mastered concepts in Math and begun basic reading. His joy at being given the chance to learn by people who believe in him and who have taught him how to communicate clearly and creatively with others is so profound that Mathuro is described as a gentleman who gets along well with his classmates.
As it turns out, there are dozens and dozens of children like Mathuro hidden away and carrying the burden of believing they will never be more than a huge burden to their families. Fortunately, there are those who know Jesus and who had clear sense of what he would do in the face of such tragedy. Filled with his compassion and his love for all people, particularly the broken, ignored and discarded of the world, these folks started ERDS just a few years ago. The news of this school has traveled out through the world of mouth grapevine throughout Senegal and beyond and families from miles away are asking if it might be possible for their deaf child to be admitted to the school.
The child sponsorship initiative of GO was created for exactly these kind of children – the disregarded, abandoned children who had little or no chance for an education, especially in a school run by people filled with the love of Jesus. I have visited the classes of ERDS and even joined them on one of the many field trips they take as part of their education. I have to tell you, the joy and eagerness to learn that spills over from these students as they communicate at top speed in sign language, is infectious. I suspect that many of them will turn out one day to be leaders in business, government, education and compassion works across West Africa. What a joy to have a hand in their lives through acting as a sponsor to one or more of them!