15-year-old Patrick Otema is from a remote area of Uganda. He’s been deaf since he was born, and has never been able to communicate his thoughts and feelings to anyone.
Like most deaf people in Sub-Saharan Africa, there’s no one around to teach Patrick sign language. When he’s not helping his father farm, he’s sitting all alone in his hut.
Many communities like his actually consider deafness a curse.
But thanks to the Ugandan National Association for the Deaf, Patrick no longer has to be lonely. A man named Raymond, who survived malaria as a child, but lost his hearing in the process, has come to teach Patrick and other deaf people in the area how to speak sign language.
From nine-year-olds to 80-year-olds, the classroom is filled with people who’ve spent their whole lives in isolation. Watch Patrick’s eyes light up as he “says” his name to his new friends for the very first time.
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