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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Please Help Me Help a Deserving Deaf Student

This is Zachariah Ngechu on the right, with his friend Joseph who is also deaf. 

Born in 1983, Zachariah lives in a small village called Karagita, Naivasha, north of Nairobi in Kenya. He has access to an internet connection, and wrote me a message on my previous blog where there is a discussion about the special problems which the Deaf encounter when learning English as a second language.

We began exchanging email.
He has been accepted by Gallaudet University, a world leader in liberal education and career development for deaf undergraduate students in the USA.

, from a poor background, has no financial resources, and his acceptance to attend is conditional upon coming up with $27,000 (USD) for a school year.

Being naturally and justifiably suspicious of requests for money originating on  the internet, I emailed his contact person, Mr. Ali Sanjabi, at
Gallaudet University, who did indeed confirm that he has been conditionally accepted and that his application will remain active until he finds the necessary funds.

I haven't done much for the poor during my life, so I decided it was time to act.

My first and still my best idea, I think, is to launch a fund-raising campaign using PayPal.
PayPal has become ubiquitous, and allows contributors to make a donations in very small or very large amounts, and everything in between, using any of the major credit cards. The PayPal module would be at the bottom of a blog or web page similar to this one, without the following questions  about logistics, but with excerpts from the many emails we have exchanged. And since Zachariah can communicate by internet, he could also answer your questions in his own words.

I asked
Mr. Ali Sanjabi if Gallaudet could possibly create this PayPal account for Zachariah so as to avoid intermediaries. Mr Sanjabi suggested that I contact Mr Matthew Sickon, the Donor Relations Specialist at Gallaudet, who replied, in turn, that as a non-profit, Gallaudet is able to accept gifts to the University for student scholarships but that money given for a particular student's tuition cannot be accepted as a gift by the University.

In other words, "the federal laws in the United States are strict" to quote Mr. Sickon. American tax regulations block my simple idea. It certainly isn't Gallaudet's fault, it's just the way things are. Who would have imagined?

I personally would prefer not to create the Pay Pal account in my own name, but I will do such if it becomes impossible to find a
reputable charitable organization which could do the job without having to appropriate a percentage of the contributions. All suggestions most welcome!

This is his conditional acceptance letter from Gallaudet University:

I really hope that some of you will give me a hand to ensure that this fundraising campaign is a success. I have never done this type of work before. I could definitely use a bit of guidance, and a lot of support to attain the goal!

Zachariah has provided me with other documents, including a letter from a Nairobi-based Association of the Deaf, of which he is a member, which outlines his education, "up to STD8 and then proceeded to Bible College in Uganda".

Finally, in his own words, a very small portion of our ongoing discussion: "My hope after graduate,I be serious with my studies in improving good English and after improving good English.I will be promoted to the first degree in international development after graduate  from Gallaudet University I will representation deaf peoples in local and international to advocate for deaf Constitution right through economic,social and political". He also intends on returning to his village to help other Deaf people thanks to the knowledge and experience we will have acquired at Gallaudet.


  1. Since writing this, I have discovered Scott Stratten, and his video at

    I am going follow his advice with a twitter-based fundraising campaign, and also use "ChipIn" instead of PayPal.

  2. Hello,

    I recently compiled a list of the best ESL blogs and I just wanted to let you know that you made the list! It is published online at

    Thanks for writing your great blog, and if you think your audience would like some of the other listed blogs feel free to share the list.

    Have a great day!

    Maria Magher