Coming to Ephphatha’s Centre for the Deaf helped Yvonne find physical and spiritual nourishment like she’d never tasted before.
Yvonne lost her hearing after contracting meningitis at a very young age. Tragically, it wasn’t long after that she also lost her father to an unknown illness.
Her mother did everything she could to work and support them both, but it was a constant struggle.
At the same time Yvonne, was facing many struggles of her own.
In the DR Congo, people with a disabilities can face heavy stigma as many consider it a curse or punishment from God for the behaviour of someone in the family.
As a result, they often struggle to access basic necessities like education, medical services, vocational training and employment opportunities.
But, like her mother, Yvonne is a determined young woman, and even in the face of stigma, persecution and incredible communication challenges, she persistently strove to get an education.
“I have accumulated a lot of failures at school,” reflects Yvonne. She’s able to smile about it now as she looks back on it but “it was very painful at the time.”
After years of trying to get an education at local schools (that couldn’t accommodate her needs as a deaf person) Yvonne’s determination led her leave home, in 2019, at age 21, and move 100s of kms north, to Goma so she could complete high school at Ephphatha’s Centre for the Deaf.
“Everything changed when I came to Ephphatha” she recalls with a smile beaming across her face.
“They helped me with my sign language and I can now read and write much better than before.”
And the transformations went further than just the classroom, “The people at Ephphatha helped me integrate into society as a deaf person. I used to believe I was inferior to other people. They showed me that wasn’t true. They showed me love and showed me that God loved me as well.”
As well as the Christian influence at Ephphatha, Yvonne lived with a Christian host family during her time there and she credits them with much of her spiritual transformation. “When I was young, I had lost my confidence in God. I told myself that he had forgotten me or abandoned me. I even started believing (like many people in DR Congo believe) that he had cursed me with my deafness.
“But my time at Ephphatha, and with my host family, revealed God’s love for me and showed me that, with God, everything can change.”
In addition to spiritual nourishment Ephphatha also introduced Yvonne to the world of physical nutrition. Alongside high school studies, Yvonne enrolled in Ephphatha’s vocational training program and fell in love with their cooking and nutrition course.
“It now is my dream to have my own shop where I can supply and make all kinds of nutritious food and teach people about nutrition. I would’ve never thought this possible before, but Ephphatha has helped me gain confidence in myself and in God… and now I have hope for my future.”