By Jessica Easthope
Deacon Samuel Mwiwaiwi knows both Kenyan and American sign language, but he is not deaf. His mission is to minister to those who believe in the word of God, but have never actually heard it.
“Mostly the deaf community is ignored and people sometimes look down on them because they cannot understand some things and you find that society tries to push them” he said.
His passion for working with the deaf community started back home in Kenya when he was tasked with teaching deaf children.
“I would write and give to them, they would write and give back to me so it was hard to communicate and I thought their grammar was wrong but I realized they were using Kenyan Sign Language and the wording is different,” he said.
Growing up in East Africa, Deacon Samuel and his seven siblings moved around a lot, but his mother’s strong Catholic faith and his father’s constant support kept them close knit.
“That love that he had for us, for his family that makes me really emotional, most of the time his presence was always felt when at home, sometimes on Saturday we would sit together on the porch outside and he would get sugar cane and we would chop and cut, it was a closely knit family, we were always together,” said Deacon Samuel.
When he eventually moved to the United States to follow his priestly vocation, the complexities of the country’s immigration system stopped him in his tracks.
“I had many challenges with my immigration paperwork, that was a big challenges, I even at one time received a letter telling me to go back home but with God’s grace I’m here, things worked out and I have all reasons to believe God has called me to this vocation,” he said.
And now he’s on the heels of putting into practice the very ministry that has shaped his call to the priesthood.
“The deaf community they need someone to be with them,” he said. “The way they talk to you, you feel this is where I belong.”