The Good Samaritan School for the Deaf was established by Mrs. Scovia Nsamba and Mr. Edward Nsamba in 1996. Scovia’s interest in deaf education began with her deaf granddaughter, Madrine. Since Madrine’s mother passed away, Scovia had been taking Madrine under her care. At that time, there were no available resources for the deaf in the area. However, Scovia was determined to give Madrine as much of a normal life as possible. She persistently enquired about Madrine’s options and soon discovered a deaf school in Kampala, the capital city.
Every Wednesday, Scovia would make a five-hour journey from the village of Kitengesa to Kampala with her granddaughter. While Madrine attended school, Scovia took adult sign language classes. After five years of making this difficult commute, Scovia found a sponsor for Madrine to attend a deaf boarding school called St. Marks’s Mwanda Deaf Unit. Initially, Edward was not convinced by Scovia’s plan to educate their granddaughter. However as Madrine progressed, he started to see how well Scovia could communicate with her. This changed his perception on deaf education. Meanwhile, Scovia pushed the rest of her family to learn sign language. She wanted Madrine to feel accepted and loved when she returned home during school holidays. As for her personal learning, Scovia proceeded to the Ugandan National Association for the Deaf (UNAD) to take advanced Uganda Sign Language courses and in turn received formal certification.
A few years later, Madrine passed away on a visit to see her father and her stepmother. She succumbed to domestic violence. This was such an eye-opening moment for Scovia. She realized just how miserably deaf children were treated, even in her own family. This prompted Scovia to turn her attention to the other deaf children in the villages of Masaka. She discovered that many of them were grossly discriminated and abused. The few parents who had the intention to educate their deaf children were not able to afford the fees of special needs institutions like St. Mark’s. Scovia began to see the need for a safe refuge and learning for these deaf children.
With her husband’s support, Scovia established Good Samaritan in 1996, out of her own house. She began with two students from the neighborhood, whom she took in without any monetary compensation from their families. When she saw how well she was able to educate them, she expanded her student base and searched in more remote villages for other deaf children to assist. It was often difficult for her to find deaf children. They were viewed with such disgrace that some parents would hide them from the community’s view and pretend that they did not exist. The neighbours who knew about them would inform her of their presence, especially if they were concerned about the children’s living conditions. Scovia would then tactfully approach the families and convince them to allow their children to stay with her.
In the nine years that Scoiva ran the school, the number of students she had grew to 38. They would study in the living room during the day and replace the benches with mats to sleep on for the night.
In 2005, William Oberle from the W.O. foundation funded the building of a block of classrooms nearby. The school also gradually built a dormitory to improve the living conditions of the deaf students. More students poured in as parents saw how well their deaf children could learn.
As of 2012, the school has 75 students. Good Samaritan delivers primary education and sign language courses according to the national Primary Leaving Examination (PLE) and the Uganda National Association of the Deaf (UNAD) syllabi respectively. They are taught by seven full-time teachers who are qualified in both sign language and teaching. Good Samaritan’s goal is to develop these children into literate citizens, enhancing their capacity to communicate with one another and with the greater community. Prior to joining Good Samaritan and learning sign language, many of these children could, at best, use crude gestures and noises to signal their needs. Now, they are able to converse fluently and further leverage on sign language to access a diverse field of knowledge.
Most of the present students cannot afford to pay the modest school fees, but were accepted nonetheless. The financial support received from the Ugandan government has been far inadequate to cover the main costs of the school.Therefore, Good Samaritan relies on contributions from international and local non-profit organisations to sustain itself. Beyond that, the school utilizes the plots of land they own, and those loaned to them, to farm for food.