I became deaf at the age of two after being ill for some time. I went to a hearing school when I was seven years old, but it wasn’t until the age of fourteen that I got an opportunity to study at the deaf school in Iringa. When I finished I started looking for jobs in town. I would go in and ask to speak to the boss, he would always ask me to come back the next day, but when I returned he would say he couldn’t employ me. No one helped me and no one wanted to employ a deaf person. In the mean time I helped my parents farm our land whilst I carried on going into town searching for jobs.
In 2003 I heard about a new enterprise called Neema Craft, which sought to employ people with disabilities. When I was interviewed I was invited in immediately and taught how to make various crafts. There were 2 others who joined at the same time and we started in a small room making paper. From there the work grew and I carried on in the paper workshop until the weaving workshop started. I then worked in weaving for a little while until in 2006 I was trained to be a chef in the restaurant. Now when I go into town to buy things for the restaurant the people who used not to understand me, help me to buy the things that I need. They are surprised that deaf and disabled people can cook, make paper, weave and bead and even more surprised at the quality of what we produce.
In the future I hope to study English to help me communicate with guests here. However I have had to help my mother out recently because she has been sick, and the money I had saved went towards paying for her medicine. One day my dream is to study further and also to set up a business to help other deaf people find work as many businesses still only employ hearing people.
Godfrey weaves a variety of scarves, napkins and placemats on a small handloom.