Why Francis de Sales?

Our partners in Jinja, Uganda, led by Sebastian Waiswa, have this week made a start on the building of their special school which will help deaf children and also provide space for medical reviews for children who are deaf and those with eyesight problems. It will also become the operating home for his Organisation for the Parents of Deaf Children. OPDC)

Teaching deaf children Sign Language will be an important part of its work.

Hand sign language between a 12yr old girl and a grown woman.

The school will be named after St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of the deaf and of journalists.

Francis was French, born 1567 near Annecy, with very rich parents who had hopes that he would marry well and become a magistrate. They invested in the very best education for him both in Annecy and in Paris.

But Francis had other plans and entered the church becoming Bishop of Geneva, a city he only visited twice because of the very strong Calvinist opposition which he experienced there.

He persisted in his religious work and is credited with being the first person to distribute handbills to householders telling then of his work. Hence his link to journalists.

But he also invented what is thought to be the first example of sign language for the deaf. This was needed for him to communicate with a young servant who helped him.

We are helping Sebastian with his project but he is also doing some great fundraising himself among his contacts and supporters in Jinja. This will be a locally designed projects and many of the parents are already helping to build it.

Land has been purchased and 10,000 bricks were delivered last week.

Trustees Peter, Bob, Richard and Chris together with Rotarian Richard Jacobs will be doing a UK Coast to Coast Cycle Ride in May as a fundraiser for this project. Sponsorship would be welcome.

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