2018 was a year of mixed success for the Maya Deaf Foundation. It was our second year as a non-profit organization, and admittedly, we were still trying to find our feet. We spent quite some time reviewing 2017, our first year, to identify all the areas in which we can improve. We were determined to improve because we recognize the responsibility that rests upon our shoulders, and we refuse to let our potential to bring about change, even a small one, lie dormant. Throughout the year we connected with persons affected by hearing loss and with medical professionals – connections we will continue to cherish to make sure 2019 will be an even better year.
I have finally completed my BCom studies and graduated in April. It was one of my greatest achievements yet because, as documented in many MDF blog posts, university was a challenging period for me and my hearing, or lack thereof. After conquering that mountain, another one waited – unemployment. Unemployment in South Africa is already a sore topic on its own, but I have taken note of how certain “suitable” opportunities became “unsuitable”. I had to consider issues like secure accommodation and its cost (as I can’t hear much, and not at all at night), and whether the specific work environment can facilitate a person with hearing loss. Persons with hearing loss should not have to ask “Can I fit in?” based on their hearing circumstances when considering job opportunities. Organizations must ask themselves “Am I accommodating enough?” I was privileged to be offered employment, but it became evident that as a society, we still have our work set out for us in this regard.
The highlight of the year was, without a doubt, the South African Sign Language Workshop MDF presented on 10 March 2018. The workshop was presented in the Kroonvale Library Hall, GraaffReinet, in collaboration with ASLADECO, an established deaf consultancy. We were fortunate to have a passionate presenter in AsandaKatshwa, one of only 9 South African Sign Language Interpreters accredited by the South African Translators Institute. The 45 attendees ranged from small children to grandparents, some with hearing loss and some with normal hearing. It was an informative yet fun-filled workshop. As with most things attempted for the first time, we were anxious, but we had faith in our planning and are extremely proud of our community for showing interest in helping build an all-inclusive town and helping MDF reach its objective of promoting South African Sign Language as a democratic right to literacy and education.It goes without saying that we intend this to be an annual affair.
The month of September marks Deaf Awareness Month and MDF’s annual #NotDEAFeted Deaf Awareness Campaign. We once again took on the task of using social media to spread deaf awareness locally and internationally. We were reminded of the power of social media in today’s society, as evidenced by the shares, testimonies and messages of encouragement we have received. A big thank you to all those who shared our social media posts. It took only a second of your time but you were instrumental in helping us spread deaf awareness far and wide.
We were shocked to find out that my alma mater Union Preparatory School, GraaffReinet intends to donate all proceeds from their annual Candles by Candlelight evening to MDF. They donated the proceeds from last year’s event to the foundation, and we are honoured that they found us worthy once again. We hope to continue to repay their faith in us. We also used the opportunity to introduce the little ones to our beneficiary, Ava-Rose Adonis. Ava is a beautiful 6 year old girl who has an extremely rare chromosomal disorder – one generally characterized by unusually slow growth, abnormally diminished muscle tone, and mild to severe delays when it comes to the coordination of mental and muscular activities. She also has hearing loss and is yet to learn to communicate effectively. MDF intends to commit the donation towards her cause. We wanted to use the opportunity to show the young pupils that hearing loss can affect anyone, that its effect can be adverse and how far their kindness can extend.
All in all, 2018 was a memorable year. We have exciting events planned for 2019 and intend on making sure it is the foundation’s best year yet. Thank you to all our followers, members, donors and the broader community for your support throughout the year. Words cannot begin to express our gratitude. We hope you also had a year to remember, and wish you nothing but the best for 2019!