what it means to be a deaf couple

Wednesday January 18 2012

Charles and Dora karungi with their two sons

Charles and Dora karungi with their two sons enjoying family time at their home. PHOTO BY Faiswal Kasirye 

By As told to Ivan Okuda

My name is Charles Kalungi, I was born deaf in Entebbe in 1974 but currently I stay in Kyebando Central Zone. I am a primary seven graduate with vocational skills in fine art and sign language interpretation.

I am a sign language instructor in Kyegegwa District. I am married with two children (not deaf) though I have two others from a broken relationship with my first wife who was not deaf like me. I think God chose Dora for me. We met in 2007 in Mbogo. I would say it was love at first sight but discovering that she is deaf like me sparked off the dating which lasted a year.

Dora is a very understanding and supportive lady, we discuss nearly everything, from future plans to family planning. For example, after a passionate debate, we agreed to have only five children. Dialogue keeps our marriage alive and happy.

That is why I made a decision to seal our love with a fabulous wedding in 2009. We occasionally remind each other of the wedding vows we made with the photo album and video coverage.

Bound by understanding of each other
Since then, we have never clashed, not because we can’t talk and quarrel but we understand each other. By the way, other men might be swept off their feet with her appealing looks but they can’t tamper with her. I mean, how would they communicate? Above all, I am very protective of her and my neighbours know that.

I read a lot of literature on parenting and marriage, and share knowledge with my better half. I know what to do to keep her jolly and over the weekends and holidays, we go to the beach or watch a movie together. I don’t want her to envy women of other men or think that because we are deaf, we can’t have fun.

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Of course, like any other married couple, once in a while, we may have misunderstandings here and there but unlike you other people who shout for the whole world to hear, we argue using sign language. It may get violent and tense but with my hot temper, which I am told is natural with deaf people, we give each other reasonable distance to let our emotions settle.

I have built my marriage and family at large on the strong pillar of prayer; we don’t stop at attending prayers in church. Before we sleep, we say a prayer with our two sons to keep our family strong. All in all, we cope because we value and understand each other, we are like twins.

Dora Karungi
I am Dora Kalungi, I was born deaf and speech impaired in Mulago in 1988. I studied Tailoring and sign language in Kenya and Ntinda School of the Deaf. I am a sign language instructor in Rakai.

My marriage to Charles Kalungi is one of those things one would call heaven sent. After a careful search for Mr Right, God brought him to my life. The fact that both of us are deaf is what inspired me to move in with him but more importantly, I took time to study him and concluded he is the true man for me.

It is gratifying that I have not been disappointed and we are comfortable where we are. I trust him. Even when he goes for work upcountry, we keep in touch on phone (using text messages). It may sound funny but I feel secure because he is deaf, no woman will think of snatching him away from me.

One quality that motivates me is his caring and responsible personality. When the children are sick, he will not wait for me to feel their body temperature and where need be, ask a neighbour to speak to the child and then he takes them to the clinic.

When we are not at work, we spend time together at home for example, there are times when the child screams in pain and I don’t realise it and he intervenes. The fact that the challenges that would come with deaf motherhood are mitigated by my husband is the fuel that keeps our marriage in motion. Whenever he is around, we are like two mothers at home. He even cooks food and helps bathe the children since we have no maid.

Of course we live like any other couple, we laugh, joke, play with the kids and it is amazing how God created our two sons; at a tender age, they already know sign language, thanks to their father coming in to help me teach them whenever he is free. So communication with the youngsters is not a problem.

Good communication is vital
I am blessed with a man who treasures communication. Whenever he has a suggestion or grievance, we discuss it and come to a compromise; we vowed never to engage in physical confrontation.

Our marriage has also flourished because I believe I can’t be limited by deafness, both of us have a source of income and we share the burden of fending for the family. So, in a way, we all need each other and make an invaluable contribution to the family. I would confidently say being a deaf couple is a blessing in disguise.

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