DeafReach started life in 1971 as The Richmond Charitable Trust. It was established by Joan Mackinnon to make grants to deaf and deafblind children and adults across the UK towards specialist toys, equipment and leisure pursuits, that could not be funded by the state. The Trust’s income was exhausted in 2016 but, rather than close down, the trustees decided on a new venture in Africa.
After consultation with colleague organisations, it was decided to focus initially on Uganda and Rwanda. In the former country, we are working with our partners, SignHealth Uganda, to develop pre-school education for deaf children across the country. Our main programme is in Rwanda, working with Friends of Handicap in Rwanda in support of their deaf school, Umutara, and their plans to build a Vocational Training Centre. We are also working with another Rwandan NGO, Empowering Children with Disabilities and its school, Nyabihu.
During 2019, we also began working with CENYESED in the Democratic Republic of Congo and, as a result of joining forces with Aurora Africa Deaf Aid, with two deaf schools in Burundi.
A major programme of supporting the development of education for deafblind children across the countries in which we work, is currently being researched.