Girls from Buea School of the Deaf (BSD) tell their stories on how they have found empowerment through sign language.
This year, I awarded prizes to some four girls from Buea School of the Deaf. The awards were based on contestants’ ability to narrate a personal experience where they felt disempowered and how they managed to overcome the challenge[s] and gained empowerment.
Of all the essays submitted, they all shared that power of communication which they now have, that voice, passion and education empowerment as well as a motherly love which has forever been an inspiration, also stood out so strong in the essays.
Winners of the prizes were: Alison Naomi (winner 1st Prize); Angela Anyinkeng Abina (winner 2nd prize); Zipporah Ewenye (winner 3rd prize) and Mukoko Sandra Namondo (winner 4th prize).
For the purpose of this article, I have chosen to publish Alison Naomi’s story. In her own words, she tells her story for change; how she overcame the trauma of finding out that she lost the ability to hear and gained empowerment.
“I became deaf in 2006, I was in primary three.” This is how Alison introduces her essay: “The whole thing started with a fever and my mum took me to the hospital. We stayed there for several days, and returned. One day that was in the early morning I just realized that I couldn’t hear. When I tuned on the TV, yet couldn’t hear a thing. At first, I didn’t take it so seriously. I felt like it was a trick – though I saw people talking but I couldn’t hear them. That same day, I remember taking a walk on the street and yet, I couldn’t hear a noise. Once my mum realized that I couldn’t hear, she took me to the hospital. The doctor did some test on me and found out that I was deaf and couldn’t hear. When my mum shared the news with me, I was depressed, traumatized and stressed.
I wiped and wiped. My mum also joined me to wipe.
Each day, I will asked myself; “Who am I?” “Why am I so helpless?” and each time, I think of my situation I shade tears. I tried to accept my fate but couldn’t. I even struggled with myself to ignore my situation and to forget who I was; still, it wasn’t that easy.
In school, during break time, my friends will join me in crying – they too couldn’t believe I will never hear their voice. One day as I was crying, my teacher called me – she tried to advise me, not to worry so much. She made me understand that I am not the only deaf person on this planet. That I can still be whatever I want to be – regardless of my hearing impairment. She told me to be brave. I kept her advice though I still felt like isolating myself from all of the hearing people. I wanted to be somewhere lonely. I even asked my peers if there knew of any lonely world where I can go there – but none could give me a satisfactory answer.
Time passed and things changed. I started appreciating myself. Liking who I am. And whenever, my mum would burst into tears, I would tell her not to worry. That I am fine and I feel able to do anything, a human being can do. For instance, I made her to understand that I could lip-read and communicate with hearing people, I can dance, I can even sing like any other person – (and by the way, I enjoy dancing. I can dance all day). I made my mum understand that I am FINE! So crying wouldn’t help – I recollected my teacher’s advice to my mum: Be Brave and be proud! When I told my mum these-she was so impressed at me. She smiled so loud and hugged me. She even promised me that she won’t cry anymore. But for sure, I know no word can stop a mother’s tear, no word can express a mother’s pain nor heal a mother’s broken heart”
All that time, I was still in the normal hearing school – it wasn’t easy to get myself fully integrated but I tried to study and understand what our teachers were teaching. One day, a teacher advised my mum to take me to one deaf school, and that was Buea School for the Deaf (BSD) and that there; they will teach me how to communicate in sign language.
The moment, I entered the campus of BSD; I noticed that everybody was a deaf. I couldn’t believe that I was seeing many people other than myself, deaf. I was happy to see them all – boys and girls of my age – from that moment; I knew that was a home for me. I knew I had found my sisters and brothers who can understand my pain and share with me. I could also tell that my future was secure and safe. Now, I can follow my dreams.
While at BSD, I was taught how to communicate with sign language. I was also taught the general education which every hearing child is been taught. And in addition, I was taught my own first language – sign language. Years after, I wrote my First School Leaving Certificate (FSLC) and I passed. Now I am in form four, next year, I will be writing my O’L GCE. And I pray that very soon, there should be a college, university for the deaf in Cameroon or some sort of scholarship programs for us to advance our education.”
Take action! This post was submitted in response to Girls Transform the World 2013.