Writing this post proved to be more difficult than I thought. To be honest, I feel a bit ashamed to be writing a post like this in the first place – because I feel like I failed someone somewhere. After surviving the horrifying year that was 2020, MDF had to find ways to adapt to the “new normal” so that we can continue to carry out our mandate – that the culture and heritage of the D/deaf and hard of hearing will be recognized in the pursuit of impartiality, equality, liberty and security.
Unfortunately, our excitement to pick up where we left off was short-lived. 2021 quickly turned out to be the sequel many prayed against. I have seen the heartache and devastation Covid-19 leaves in its wake, but I was never ready to experience it personally. On 19 January 2021 we lost a dear friend and one of MDF’s greatest supporters. It was such a shock to my system, and made me question my own mortality. It’s been years since I’ve lost someone so close to death. How does one move forward from this?
The highlight of 2021 transpired a month later. After 5 years of dating, Ruth and I got married in an intimate ceremony just outside Graaff Reinet. When I say “intimate”, I mean intimate. This was due to the lockdown restrictions in place at the time but we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful and blessed day.
Fast-forward another month later – my work contract ended abruptly. I just got married and now I’m jobless. My faith constantly reminded me we’ll be okay, but my mind was working overtime. I was still trying to find my feet as a “good husband” and the inability to “provide for my family” overwhelmed me. As an individual I try to set standards high for myself and not meeting them creates conflict within me. It’s probably not healthy, but that’s how I am.
Another month later, Ruth fell pregnant and our little family was about to grow. This news was first met with elation, but then anxiety crept in too. I still did not have a job. I had to convince myself to focus on the positive and that the baby is a blessing – because that’s the truth. Once I managed to do that, life became so much better and I could not wait.
Just when things were looking up, life dealt us another bad hand, another month later. After numerous visits to the doctor, we were told the words, “There’s no heartbeat.” I could not understand why this was happening to us. I learned that miscarriages in the beginning stages of pregnancies occur more often than we think, but I really thought my luck turned around after the past few months. I did not expect this. Again, how does one move forward from this?
As if perfectly planned, I found employment a month later in June, and started in July. I could finally breathe a sigh of relief, because this was no small thing. As at 24 August 2021, South Africa’s unemployment rate hit a record high of 34,4%, or 7.8 million jobless people, according to Stats SA. To add to that, we already know that there is low labour market absorption of persons with disabilities in South Africa. So count yourself truly blessed if you are able to earn an income in these dreadful times.
Up till this point this post is sounding a bit like a pity party and an attempt at making excuses for MDF not being as active as it used to, and should, be. Truth is – I was frustrated and hard on myself for not having achieved much recently. My motivation waned, even though I’ve always known that the work we do is important. Through all this, I’ve learned to show myself more grace. What I’ve been through is a lot. What you have been through is a lot. This whole year has been a lot. We all deserve grace. But still… we must push forth. We are able to, because we are resilient like that.
As the foundation is trying its best to adapt and push forward to continue carrying out its mandate, we ask that you please continue supporting us like you always did. Little by little, we’ve shown we can change lives.