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15 and Learning to Speak


Press 1


The heart-warming moment that will bring tears to your eyes

19th November, 2014  – by Katy Winter

Disabled Ugandan teenager beams as he overcomes the odds and finds his voice for the very first time

Only two per cent of Uganda’s population is deaf, but the disability carries huge stigma in the country with the disabled dismissed as ‘kasiru’, which translates as mentally deficient and useless.

But Patrick has been lucky. His teacher is Raymond Okkelo who is deaf himself – and who is one of the few Ugandans to use sign language.

But nothing is as heart-warming as the moment that Patrick finally realises he can communicate, with joy spreading across his face as he grasps the significance of what he has learned. Patrick’s transformation is nothing short of breathtaking.

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One million

Press 6


This Teen Never Learned To Communicate. One Sign Language Class Transformed Him

November 13th, 2014 – by Dominique Mosbergen

Patrick Otema was born deaf. The 15-year-old is said to live in a remote area of Uganda, and with no access to schools for the deaf he’s never learned sign language and has thus never been able to have a complex conversation with anyone. Most of Patrick’s day is spent alone in his hut, isolated from the world.

“Patrick’s fate is not unusual,” said journalist Kiki King in this video about the teen’s life. “A majority of deaf people in Sub-Saharan Africa have never been taught sign language. Unable to communicate with others, they’re trapped in their own minds.”

But that reality is slowly shifting — at least for some.

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Press 2


WATCH: Deaf 15-Year-Old Learns How to Sign and Communicate for the First Time

18th November, 2014 – by Kelli Bender

Imagine living the first 15 years of your life in total silence, never having a real conversation with anyone. This is Patrick Otema’s reality.

Born profoundly deaf in a remote region of Uganda where there were no schools for kids like Patrick, the 15-year-old has never had the opportunity to learn sign language or lip reading. The boy and his father communicate through a series of basic simple gestures, leaving the teen with little to do but work in the field outside or sit alone in his hut.

Raymond Okkelo hopes to free Patrick from the anguish of isolation. Deaf himself, Okkelo is a sign language teacher dedicated to giving the deaf people of Sub-Saharan Africa and their family members the classes they need to communicate.

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Press 5


Deaf boy is given the gift of communication in tear-jerking new documentary

13th November, 2014 by Amy Willis

This is the heart-breaking story of a deaf teenager who has been unable to communicate with anyone properly his entire life.

That was until one sign language teacher, who is also deaf, stepped in to help.

Patrick Otema, 15, was born profoundly deaf but because he lives in a remote area in Uganda was never able to learn sign language.

He could only communicate on a very basic level with his father – who would gesture to him where to work the land.

But a clip of Channel 4’s Unreported World follows how sign language teacher Raymond Okkelo gradually befriended Patrick and showed him how to use sign language properly.

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Watch the viral clip:

Watch the Special Update – 10 weeks later: