September 26, 2011
Andrew Foster was born in Ensley, Alabama, the son of a coal miner. His parent’s names were Wiley and Veline. He and his younger brother Edward became deaf through spinal meningitis in 1936. He became the first Black Deaf person to earn a bachelor's degree from Gallaudet College and the first to earn a master's degree from Eastern Michigan University. Eventually receiving a Master's Degree from Seattle Pacific Christian College, he founded Christian Mission for the Deaf African in 1956, and set out for Liberia, Africa; where he established the first school of his mission in Ghana. Educational opportunities for African Americans in that era prevented him from achieving more than a sixth-grade education. At the age of sixteen, he moved to Detroit, Michigan to live with his aunt and attended Bethany Pembroke church where he later committed his life to the call of Christ. He completed high school through a correspondence course with an American School in Chicago, Ill in 1951. In 1961 Andrew was married to Berta, a deaf German, and together they had 5 children (4 boys and 1 girl). Gallaudet College awarded him an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters in 1970 for his accomplishment. When Foster went to Africa for the first time he encountered cultures so oppressive of deaf people that parents often hid their deaf children at home or abandoned them altogether. Hearing missionaries and school administrators told him that deaf children didn't even exist in Africa. But shortly after opening a school for the deaf in Accra, Ghana, his school was filled to capacity and had a long waiting list. Over time, Foster would travel from country to country, opening some 30 different schools, churches, Sunday schools and centers for the deaf in countries all across central Africa, from Senegal to Kenya. The challenges...