Someone asked me about the Freedom Challenge race across South Africa again the other day and in a nutshell, as hard as what the Freedom Challenge is, and as I speak from experience – (in the first quarter that is) it is a truly special race. It’s a hard race but special! You take what you want from it. You also learn and accept what it throws at you.
But the main question that was posed was what challenges I would face dealing with Deafness and doing the Freedom Challenge and does my deafness have impact on my ability to do it. Does it make it more difficult? Most of my life I have almost been in denial even though I was coping with deafness. Sounds strange but true. I tried to hide it from the world, through the school and work years. As a youngster, the stigma associated with Deaf was raw. As I got older and technology, information and education got better, so the stigma seemed to lessen but is still there for some of the uneducated on the subject. Deafness is the invisible impairment. You cannot see it. You can disguise it until you open your mouth to speak or as an example, miss the punch-line in a joke where everyone is laughing and you are not.
There is no escaping Deafness. I hid my Deafness pretty well, so I thought I did but it came at a price. I hid the intervention that I received at an early age partly and then completely by denying it as I entered young adulthood. The price of not hearing properly came with the embarrassments, feeling left out, loneliness and just the general missing out on some of the fun things of life growing up. Yet, all the secretiveness and building walls were that of my own doing.
It took me many years until recently where I finally came to terms with my deafness for the first time with encouragement, better technology and intervention, and started opening up to others. Sadly, having taken all these years to accept things as they are, I had been hardwired to still feel my complexes and be the somewhat stern, somewhat shy, sometimes introverted individual I have become at times, yet I know I can unravel some of the cords over time if I allow myself to. I am also blessed to have supportive people close to me who share my dreams and passions.
My fundraising effort for Carel du Toit Centre, Cape Town is important to me. I want the kids that attend the Centre to have that early intervention! I want them to have their best shot at life! I want them to know that they are just as good and just as strong as anybody else! I want them to know that they can do and become anything they want! I want them to know that they are fully capable! And it is for that reason that I am trying to do fundraising for them to ensure with the help of others, we are doing our bit to ensure this will continue to happen!
Back to the answer to the question of being Deaf and doing the Freedom Challenge.
Does it become more difficult?
Yes and no!
It all depends what your perceptions are and what you perceive as hard and what is not. It also depends on whether you allow it to rule you or boost you. I think it does come with its own set of personal challenges and its own score of apprehensions, but I don’t allow it to define me. It’s merely a case of getting on with it.
Due to the nature of the event, the elements, the weather, and all else that is associated with such an event, especially in the winter season, I cannot make use of hearing aids that I use due to the fact that they are not conducive for this type of event. Not using them makes my world a whole lot quieter. Yes, I will not hear all birds sing, crickets chirp, frogs croak. I may not always hear nearby running streams in the dark. The Freedom Challenge is said to have predators roaming in some of the areas we transverse. If they are, I may not hear them sneaking around in the bush. When I am recuperating in the dead of night after a long day out and having to rise early hours of the morning to get going, I will not hear an alarm going off. If my mountain bike, say is making high pitch noises because of a potential component problem or if my tyre punctures and air is escaping, I will not hear this. Riding next to a fellow compatriot, conversation will be minimal if at all because of wind noise, even slight, while on the move and because I cannot hear all that would be spoken. There would and will be many more obstacles that I would be required to hear that I may not.
I have to rely on my sixth sense at times. I have to rely on my sense of sight, my sense of touch, my sense of smell and I also have to rely on whatever hearing I have left too. The rest is my intelligence and logic that comes into play. All through the years, this has become second nature for me and is nothing new.
I believe as human beings we are more adaptable than we think we are when it comes to challenges and it’s all just comes down to a matter of can and will…
Once again, this initiative must not be seen as me being Deaf and doing the Freedom Challenge but rather about me offering to be a tool to gather supporters and rally support to raise funds for the Carel du Toit Centre – Cape Town that teaches Deaf children.
Any donation, big or small, in ZAR or Dollars, Pounds or Euros does not matter…
All that matters is that any donation amount goes a long way to assisting the Carel du Toit Centre, Cape Town and the kids with Deafness that attend the Centre.
Press the RED Donate button Now!
|Where my bike takes me. One of the training grounds….Out There.|