I don’t know if it is just me, but it feels like 2019 came and went in a hurry. They do say that it feels like time goes by quicker when keeping busy – which is exactly what the Maya Deaf Foundation have been doing. There was a lot that needed to be done, but we vowed to improve on our 2018 performance and make our presence felt in our quaint little town and its surrounding areas. Again, we recognize the responsibility that rests upon our shoulders, and I am proud to say we put in the effort and dedication required of us in carrying out our responsibilities. I am also extremely proud of all our members and volunteers, and hope you are too. If 2019 is anything to go by, 2020 will be an exceptional year.

The year 2019 kicked off with an invite from Union Preparatory School to attend and accept a donation from the school, being the proceeds from their annual Carols by Candlelight held in November 2018. This was not the first time my alma mater has made a donation to our foundation, and was not the last either. They generously donated in January 2018 for the first time, and dedicated the proceeds received from their 2019 Carols by Candlelight towards our cause too.

In turn, MDF likes to dedicate the donations received towards a specific cause. The first donation received in 2018 was used to host a South African Sign Language (SASL) workshop in collaboration with ASLADECO, an established deaf consultancy, to promote SASL as a democratic right to literacy and education. The donation received in 2019 was used to aid our very first 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. The foundation was able to pay for the servicing of her hearing aids and provide her with a top-of-the-range tablet with communication apps installed to aid her development. A big thank you to Union Preparatory for their kindness and unwavering support.

Following the success of the SASL workshop held in 2018, we made it a priority to host more than one in 2019. Throughout the month of September, we visited primary schools in Graaff Reinet and hosted mini SASL workshops as part of our annual #NotDeafeted campaign in support of Deaf Awareness Month. We shared with them how to protect their own hearing, the effects of hearing loss, taught them basic conversational signs and gave away free goodies. We were most pleased to witness such eagerness to learn from the young students. We hope and pray they will remember what was shared with them when they encounter people affected by hearing loss or people relying on sign language as a form of communication. It is one of many ways of developing an all-inclusive community.

Apart from using social media to spread awareness like we do every year, we could not be more proud to host a long-awaited event as part of our #NotDeafeted campaign – our very first Silent Walk. The walk, in collaboration with ParkRun, also served as a fundraising effort for MDF. On 7 September 2019, 176 participants in red clothing flocked to the Mountain Drive in Graaff Reinet to run/walk 5kms in support of all affected by hearing loss. The participants were encouraged to purchase earplugs, so kindly donated by Montego Feeds, to wear on the 5km route. The objective was to, even to the slightest degree, portray how hearing loss can have an impact on the simplest of activities, like walking. Judging from the responses received from the participants upon completion, we can safely say our objective was reached. A special word of thanks to our sponsors on the day and to the community of Graaff Reinet for coming together in support of their fellow community members.

As an organization, we have had a memorable year. There is no doubt about the fact that we have grown a lot in 2019. And as much as we have grown, there is always room for more growth. There is no place for complacency in 2020. As always, thank you to all our followers, members, donors and the broader community for your support throughout the year. We hope you had a memorable 2019 too, and pray that 2020 will be filled with joy, blessings and growth.

Laszlo Maya

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