World Deaf Leadership
Name: Benjamin Dana Diara
Field of Study: Undecided
Mr. Benjamin Dana Diara was born on July 22, 1981 in the region of Segou, Mali. In 1996 his family learned of the existence of Ecole Pour les Deficients Auditifs de Bamako (School for the Deaf in Bamako). At Ecole Pour les Deficients Auditifs, he excelled. After completing his education at Ecole Pour les Deficients Auditifs, the school sent him to France to train to become a sign language teacher.
Since opportunities for the deaf to continue their education beyond the 9th grade was lacking, Diarra enrolled at a hearing school where no one signed to continue his education. Relying on what he could see on the blackboard and assistance from classmates, he surprised his Principal and everyone by topping his class.
Mr. Diarra describes the difficulties the deaf in Mali faces everyday: poor educational access, unqualified teachers who do not know sign language or are not properly trained to work with the deaf, poor availability of proficient sign language interpreters, non-existent opportunities for the deaf to be gainfully employed and denial of basic human rights. Mr. Diarra would like to address these problems upon obtaining his degree and returning back home to Mali. Mr. Diarra intends to set up conferences and workshops to disseminate, brainstorm, discuss, and find solutions. The benefits of conducting these conference and workshops, said Mr. Diarra, "will be to empower the deaf to take control of their social, economic, and political participation and decision making to uplift and improve the quality of life for the deaf in Mali."