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BIKO INTERVIEW: Georgine Auma: Educator Giving Deaf Girls ‘Ears’

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Georgine Auma
Georgine Auma. PHOTO | COURTESY 

If you ask Georgine Auma what she does for a living she will say, “I’m a teacher by profession, administrator by experience, advocate by passion and mentor by choice.” Then she will pause and add, “I build dreams.” Confidence oozes from her pores. She’s passionate about deaf women and girls with bias to education because it opened doors for her. She co-founded Deaf Girls Education Foundation where she mentors girls (And earned her Mandela Washington Fellowship).

She loves football and was the secretary of the Deaf Football Association of Kenya that aims to nature talents in the deaf youth. She is currently the director of Studies at Ngala Secondary School for the Deaf in Nakuru and has a Master’s degree in Education Curriculum Development from Maseno University and a Bachelor of Special Needs Education (IT) from the same institution.

She talked to JACKSON BIKO and was accompanied by Susan Thuo, a sign language interpreter.

I would like to say a word and see if you can read my lips. Here. What did I just say?

(Laughs) I didn’t get it. What did you say?

“Karachuonyo.” It was a tough one, I know.

It’s hard for me to lip read someone for the first time I meet them. But when we interact more, if I meet you another time, I’ll be reading how you speak and figure out how you say words.

Were you born like this or this happened later in life?

I was born hearing, but when I was about nine years old, I became sick with mumps, which caused this deafness. We tried hearing aids, but they never worked for me. Life turned upside down, but luckily, I had a lot of family support. I attended a normal high school and would sit in front of the classroom and lip-read what the teacher was saying. It wasn’t easy. I got an A-minus in my KCSE exams and was invited to the university to learn engineering, but was told that it was impossible to study it in my condition.

I changed my dreams, did education, now I teach mathematics, business, sign language and computers. I am very passionate about deaf girls education, because I remember when I was growing up, there were so many girls in my village who were dropping out of school and having sex for fish, which was a very big business. So when I am not teaching or supporting the girls, I am playing football.

Given an opportunity, would you study engineering?

No. I love what I’m doing now. I’m fulfilled.

You keep saying “deaf” which I imagined would be derogatory. What’s the politically correct term?

Deaf is fine. That’s actually a good word because we actually feel proud of that word. It gives us an identity, it’s our culture. We don’t feel lost. But if you call us “hearing impaired” it means that we have a problem with the ears, like it’s something that can be fixed. We don’t need fixing, it doesn’t need fixing.

We’re full individuals, fully operational, and we’re only different because we use sign language.

What are the advantages of being deaf?

(Laughs) First, when I see a nice dress and go into a shop to buy it and we start negotiating, I will win. (Laughs). Because I’m better at sign language than the other person, they will get tired at some point and say, “fine take it at your price.” Somehow people will sympathise with a deaf person, as if we are in pain. Another advantage is that when I go to Huduma Centre I will jump the queue. See? (Laughs) I get swift service.

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I don’t pay income tax. Also, parking is free for me. I don’t have to go around looking for parking unlike you. Again, because I’m deaf I have excellent eyesight, twice as good as yours. I use my eyes to see and hear. The last is that I’m never disturbed by noise. That is very important. My world is very silent. A very peaceful world. So you’ll find people fighting and screaming but I will never hear that. People pay lots of money to go to, for instance to Maasai Mara for the silence and peace. But I have my Maasai Mara in my head.

But silence doesn’t always mean peace.

(Laughs) Yes. Yes. You have a point.

What are your current challenges as a 31-year-old, professional, woman?

As a deaf person, the greatest challenge is communication. I’d love to speak to someone directly, not through a sign language interpreter. Emotions are lost in translation, so are nuances. We also can’t speak through her for long, it gets tiring.

Getting a job is also difficult because employers don’t believe I can do a job as well as others. Socially, I love going out to the club but it often proves tricky when people realise I’m deaf and retreat. But I love dancing so much, that’s the only reason I go to the club. I’m a good dancer.

So, wait, when you go out to the club how do you dance when you can’t hear the music?

(Laughs) I feel the beats from the soles of my feet. I can be seated and when I touch the table, I can feel the rhythm of the music on the table and know that’s a good song to dance to.

Amazing! When you met Barack Obama what did he tell you?

He is so cool. Actually, he knows a bit of sign language. He knows “hello” and “I’m fine.” It was a great honour to attend the Young African Leaders Initiative in 2015. I did a training in the US on civic leadership for two months. I shook Obama’s hands. He has very very soft hands. (Laughs)

What is the most challenging thing about being an educator?

Just to see the challenges children who are born deaf go through; starting school much later than their counterparts and not having a base language to begin with. It becomes very hard to teach that person. Also the school system demands that you must know English, and that is the language we use to teach. But for a child who was born deaf, then teaching English is very hard for them. You can teach them the sign language, that’s easy, they can learn that. But when you tell them how to write in English, they can’t. This means that when they get a D in school people think they are stupid, but they are not. The issue is that they can’t express themselves in English. These children are very smart and amazing; it’s only that the system needs to test them differently.

They say things happen for a reason, have you ever discovered and embraced the reason why you are deaf?

Yes. I believe that the reason I became deaf is to make a difference in deaf children’s life. Because most of the deaf children grow up without a mentor. And they don’t even believe that they can do anything with their lives. So when they see me, they are hopeful that they are not special, they can do as well or even better.

If you were given hearing for five minutes, what sound would you love to hear?

I want to hear “I love you” said in words.

Whoa! That’s deep, Georgine! Talking of love, how is dating for you?

Well, dating men who aren’t deaf is really hard. Because most people say they want to talk and hear you. However, it’s impossible for me to call you and talk to you, so I’ll insist on texting and chatting, and sometimes people say I’m tired of texting you, I’m tired of chatting. So it’s really hard to relate to that man. Not to say I’m looking for a deaf man but just someone to connect with. (Pause) I think I might have met someone, yes. (Laughs)

What’s your language of love?

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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