CARNMONEY teenager Ruth Kelly will travel halfway around the world to pass on her skills to deaf children in Sri Lanka.
The 19-year-old, who is deaf herself, will have to learn a new sign language before she can make the trip in February.
Ruth will spend three months working voluntarily in a school for deaf children.
“Going to Sri Lanka is a personal cause for me, because I will be teaching at a deaf school. Coming from a deaf family, I am aware of how precious education is. My mum went to a deaf boarding school in Belfast and my Dad went to a deaf boarding school in Dublin, and both of them left school with no qualifications. At the time, the support for the deaf pupils was poor”, said Ruth.
“This is such a massive trip as I will be travelling halfway across the world, experiencing an entirely different culture, learning a new sign language, completely alien to my own. I will be stretched mentally and physically to adjust to life in a deaf school in Sri Lanka but I believe that I can do it with the support of my friends and everyone who donates towards me.
“The school I’m going to provides a supportive educational environment for deaf children and their families. Volunteers there, run interactive activities for students of all ages. One of my roles there is to support and help the older children as they prepare to leave the school and attempt to secure work.
Ruth went on to comment on her own education.
“Having had negative experiences, my parents decided to send me along with my three sisters to a deaf boarding school in England where I achieved nine GCSEs.
“I am forever grateful to my parents for sending me to the school, it was a very positive experience, despite being homesick for a couple of years.
“I did not stay at the boarding school, I moved back home and attended Belfast High School with a team of British Sign Language interpreters. It was an interesting experience, being in a ‘hearing world’ but the experience was not for me, so I decided to attend South Eastern Regional College in Bangor to study A-Levels in English literature, history and psychology.
“This project is suited to people who are deaf themselves, so lucky me, for being profoundly deaf. I will be working intensely with the deaf families and children in Sri Lanka. It will be a life-changing experience and one that will help so many people and I will be giving it 110 per cent all of the way.
“I am currently trying to raise money for my trip to Sri Lanka in February, I need to raise at least £1,000 for a very good cause.
“I have put together five different Christmas hampers and I have been selling raffles. People have been fantastic. I am also hosting a race night in January, on Saturday 26, at The Glenown Inn, at 7.30pm. My lovely dad will have his legs waxed as well, entertainment for us and pain for him. I have also set up a donating page; http://www.gofundme.com/1jwv4w”
Currently, Ruth is on a gap year and plans to go to university next year to study English literature. She plans to pursue a career as a teacher of the deaf.