What you need to know:
- Earlier wedding of deaf and dumb couple inspired the two to say ‘I do’ in Nakuru
The year is definitely on to a happy ending for two newly weds who took their vows a week before Christmas.
John Kimata Mukui, 28, and Gladys Akinyi Obonyo, 25 had a wedding that stands out. The bride, Ms Obonyo, a Luo and the groom, Mr Kimata a Kikuyu, are both deaf and dumb.
Mr and Mrs Kimata tied the knot at Nakuru’s Presbyterian Church of East Africa in Shabab estate in Nakuru. The church has a special welfare programme for deaf people.
Gladys runs a dressmaking business in Mumias while John is employed at the Karen College for the Deaf in Nairobi.
The bride confided through an interpreter that she would be relocating to Nairobi to be with her husband.
They both share a humble background, with John having lost both his parents while he was young. He lived through God’s grace before a Good Samaritan, Nakuru-based lawyer Dominic Kimata, took him in as an adopted son.
But the couple has now overcome the seemingly insurmountable obstacles in their lives to claim their right to happiness.
Ms Martha Wambui, an interpreter and sign language specialist who works at the church, says that the PCEA Ministry for the Deaf Services helps the deaf through mentorship and income generating activities.
The ministry also runs a school for interpreters besides guidance and counselling for, among other things, HIV-positive people.
“We strive to have deaf people in the fold, recognising that they are a part of the congregation as much as you and I,” Ms Wambui said.
While most other churches only have English, Kiswahili and vernacular interpreters, the Shabab PCEA goes a step further by including sign language interpreters for deaf people.
This ensures the church feels welcoming for deaf people and they can worship just like their hearing counterparts, says Ms Wambui, who heads the ministry.
The ministry has more than 60 deaf members engaged in various businesses in Nakuru.
“The education system in Kenya does not give adequate support to deaf people and that is why many of them have not had access to higher education. We are trying to supplement their lack of skills by providing them with viable means of earning a living,” Ms Wambui said.
The church spent about Sh20,000 to open a water kiosk project in Kimathi estate managed by members to serve residents.
“It is really catching on. We also have a retail shop, Bahati, in which we invested about Sh50,000. These projects provide a living for many members,” she adds.
She said that the church operates an open door policy for all deaf people.
While John and Gladys are not members of the church and do not fellowship there, Ms Wambui said that when they approached her for help organise their marriage earlier this year, she did not hesitate.
The two followed in the footsteps of Wilson Mumo and Cecilia Wanjiru, another deaf couple who wedded in the same church in April. The new couple confess that the wedding inspired them to also tie the knot, and the choice of venue came naturally.