The Mirror Lifestyle Content

Sign language strengthens our bond — Mother, hearing impaired son
Mrs Vasty Agyeiwaa Sarkodie interacting with her hearing impaired son, Michael Gyamfi Sekyere through sign language Picture: Ernest Kodzi

Sign language strengthens our bond — Mother, hearing impaired son

At the age of three years, Michael Gyamfi Sekyere lost his hearing and speech from complications of measles. The path of his life and that of his mother, Mrs Vasti Agyeiwaa Sarkodie, changed.


"I was 18 years old when it happened and I initially blamed spiritual forces because my son was born perfectly fine. I cried, fasted and prayed day and night for a miracle. 

 Mr Sekyere recently helped a friend develop a basic level sign language book

Medically, I sought help from all possible angles, including the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), but to no avail," Mrs Sarkodie explained in an interview with The Mirror in Accra last week.

She added that unfortunately, Michael, now 27, has suffered bullying, emotional abuse, maltreatment, beatings from teachers and was often misunderstood.

Not discouraged, Mrs Sarkodie dedicated her life to her son and also learnt sign language which she referred to as ‘2 by 4’ from her son.

Their bond continuous to be strengthened through this that even our reporter could feel it during the interview as they giggled and made jokes at each other.

With support from both parents, Michael attended the Bechem School for the Deaf and Blind in the Ahafo Region for Kindergarten, then the Ashanti School for the Deaf in Jamasi, Eastern Region, for basic and junior high school. 

Mr Sekyere, (left) showcasing his artistic side back in SHS 

He continued to the Koforidua School for the Deaf, Eastern Region, for senior high school (SHS) and is now pursuing his Bachelor's Degree in Graphic Design at the University of Education, Winneba, in the Central Region.

Living with the condition; A son’s perspective

The Mirror (TM): How did you manage through life and education?
Michael Gyamfi Sekyere (MGS):  Initially, I attended regular school for a year but faced constant bullying, so I transferred to a school for the deaf. Even there, especially at Jamasi, it was tough due to the inadequate number of proficient sign language teachers. These challenges and others delayed my education.
After Jamasi, I worked as a labourer for an iron rod company, but it was stressful, and I was sometimes teased. I continued to SHS where I studied Visual Art, aiming for a career in Graphic Design.
Later after SHS, I worked at a wholesale company for three months, but the stress and low pay led me to quit and switch to a construction job, which paid weekly but involved a lot of abuse and misunderstanding. I endured all that because I wanted to save up when it was time for university. 
Hmm, for my social life, I have lost some friends but made some genuine ones who did not only understand sign language but liked me for who I was.
For my family, I am the only one who cannot speak or talk so I have support at home. In fact, my younger sister has learnt the sign language.

TM: How do you communicate with people?
MGS: Many people do not understand sign language, so I usually write notes, use text messages or hand gestures. Most people have been supportive and understanding, and some even try to learn my language, which I am always ready to teach.
I am also not completely deaf; I can actually hear loud sounds which sometimes help as I walk along the road.

TM: What inspired you to pursue higher education despite your challenges?
MGS: My father, Mr Kwame Sekyere, has always encouraged me to believe in my abilities. I was determined not to follow the typical path of many people with disabilities in Ghana, so I worked hard to pursue my education. I wanted to prove to myself and others that my condition would not limit me.

TM: Can you share a bit about your relationship with your mother and her role in your journey?

MGS: My mom has also been my support, always defending me and protecting me against teasing, sometimes even arguing or educating people. 
I remember one time when I needed directions from a woman. I wanted to video call my mother so she could talk to the woman but the woman shunned me. My mother later came and gave the woman a piece of her mind.
She also helped me learn to read lips by speaking directly to me, even though she knows I cannot hear her, yet expects me to understand.

 Mr Sekyere (arrowed) with his father, Mr Kwame Sekyere (second left) and brothers Nana Poku Sekyere and Agyapong Sylvester Sekyere

A Mother's Love: Vasty Agyeiwaa Sarkodie (VAS)

TM: How did you manage after his diagnosis?
Vasty Agyeiwaa Sarkodie (VAS): Initially, his father and I were concerned mainly about his communication, education and social life. I had to accompany him everywhere until my second and third children were born and could assist in taking him places.
Despite his hearing impairment, our son was naturally intelligent and determined to be independent. Sometimes, he ventured out alone with his phone or pen and paper to communicate with others. 
He even often advised me not to worry and save money instead of seeking a cure for him. I took his advice and focused on helping him excel despite his disability.

TM: How did you support Kwame through his education?
VAS: Although  the relationship between his father and I didn't work out, he has always been there for Michael, both financially and physically. Unfortunately, he lost an eye in a bid to ensure that our son succeeds. But i don’t want to say more about this.

TM: Was his condition hereditary?
VAS: Oh no, no one in my family or his father’s family has any form of disability. Moreover, he was not born with the condition.

Mrs Vasti Agyeiwaa Sarkodie and her hearing impaired son, Michael Gyamfi Sekyere

TM: What has been your proudest moment as a mother?
VAS: Eii, everything oo, madam. Everywhere he goes, he leaves people amazed at how efficient, decent and hardworking he is. I am always receiving praises which makes me happy that I never gave up on him. 
 My son hates seeing me worried. When I panic and start ranting because I haven't heard from him, he will patiently watch me finish and then calms me down with explanation.

He and his siblings sometimes laugh at my outbursts. He's independent, so I don't worry much. If he needs help, he reaches out to me or his father.

TM: What do you wish for him?
VAS: Hmm, I really wish he could travel out of the country because here, there are limited opportunities even with finding a job. Also, people do not understand or treat people with disability here fairly. 
                                                                                                            Writer’s email: [email protected]


Connect With Us : 0242202447 | 0551484843 | 0266361755 | 059 199 7513 |

Like what you see?

Hit the buttons below to follow us, you won't regret it...