Why I became a Deaf Advocate "The Real Me"

Rebeca
Posted August 22, 2020 from Nigeria
Deaf Advocate
Deaf Advocate (1/1)

My name is Ayodele Rebecca Olatunji. I am a Social Entrepreneur, Deaf Advocate and a Sign Language Tutor/ Interpreter. My life goal has been about making positive impact, and creating a better inclusive society for every deaf person in my home country, Nigeria.

Why this passion?

I grew up seeing the everyday struggle of a deaf person, which was usually accompanied by a high level of social stigma, and this is because I am a CODA (Child of the Deaf Adult). Yes, both my parents are deaf and I have a younger sister who became deaf due to early complications and a late detection. I learnt the Sign language as a child from my parents and I grew up helping to bridge the communication gap most time for my parents. I wasn’t always proud of using the Sign language especially in open spaces or at social functions, this was due to the stares or the pitiful look I would normally get from passer-bys’ or people around. This really affected my self esteem as well as my relationship with my sister, until the day she confronted and asked me, why I was embarrassed by her and our parent's difference?  Her many questions shaped my life, and from that day I made up my mind to do better and change the “Why”.  

CODAH Enterprise became a reality right after my volunteering journey with Voluntary Service Overseas and ever since, creating a world where being Deaf is no longer seen as a limitation but rather as a different culture has been my number one life goal.  

I am the founder of CODAH Enterprise, where I work to promote the linguistic identity of the Deaf community and foster their inclusion in the society.

This story was submitted in response to The Real Me.

Comments 34

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Jill Langhus
Aug 22, 2020
Aug 22, 2020

Hello Dear Rebeca,

Welcome to World Pulse! How are you and your family doing, dear? Thanks so much for sharing a little bit about your story as well as your NGO. I'm glad you're helping the deaf community and bringing much needed awareness around it, too.

You may want to connect with the lovely Regina in Cameroon who is also a strong advocate for the deaf community. This is her bio: https://www.worldpulse.com/user/62708/bio, and this is her initiative/NGO: https://www.worldpulse.com/user/62708/campaign. I'm sure she would be delighted to hear from you.

Do you have a website and/or social media page(s), for us to like/follow?

I'm looking forward to seeing more stories from you and learning more about your initiatives.

Hope you and your family are safe and well, and that you have a good weekend, and upcoming week, too!

Rebeca
Aug 22, 2020
Aug 22, 2020

Thank you very much Jill. Yes we are all fine and thanks for sharing Regina's profile, I will definitely check her up. You can follow any of these pages
https://www.facebook.com/olatunji.rebbyayus
https://www.linkedin.com/in/rebecca-olatunji-27883a169
Do have a great week ahead

Jill Langhus
Aug 24, 2020
Aug 24, 2020

You're welcome, dear!

I'm glad you're all safe and well:-)

Great. I will like/follow your pages. Thanks for sharing, and the well wishes, too!

Rebeca
Aug 28, 2020
Aug 28, 2020

Thank you for the love, I feel so welcome already. Please be safe

Jill Langhus
Aug 29, 2020
Aug 29, 2020

You're welcome, Dear!

Very glad to hear it:-)

You, too!

XX

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Aug 23, 2020
Aug 23, 2020

Hello, Rebeca,

Welcome to World Pulse! I'm delighted that a new voice from Nigeria is rising up!

Wow, dear, what a lovely family you have! As a child, I was so fascinated with students in our school who enthusiastically talked with their hands. I could watch them for hours. All I can do is sign with letters with a few basics. My son is nonverbal and has special needs. It's a language I need to teach him so we can better communicate. So much love and respect for you, dear.

Please keep on writing. Kudos to you for founding CODAH Enterprise. I'm happy that women who advocates for the deaf communities are increasing. I hope you get connected with Regina as Jill suggested. Looking forward to reading your future posts.

Welcome again to our growing sisterhood!

Rebeca
Aug 24, 2020
Aug 24, 2020

Thank you Karen,
You are already on your way to bridging the communication gap between you and your son please do continue learning the Sign language and start teaching your son, you can as well learn together with him. well done!
Yes, already connected with her, thanks

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Aug 25, 2020
Aug 25, 2020

You're welcome, dear. So happy you are here. :) Thanks for the encouragement! Great! We need more women like you.

Paulina Nayra
Aug 24, 2020
Aug 24, 2020

Dear Rebeca,
I'd like to learn the sign language. I believe everyone should know sign language so we can communicate with everyone. Is there a video tutorial you can recommend?
And glad to know that you were a VSO volunteer. We are a partner of VSO in the Philippines and have managed several VSO volunteers in the past. I wish to volunteer overseas, too in the near future. Wish you success in your CODAH Enterprise.
Take care and huggs.

Rebeca
Aug 24, 2020
Aug 24, 2020

Wow! Thanks Paulina
Great to hear you are VSO partner
You know we have different types of Sign language, which I am sure your country has theirs, so I will advise you start with your country's Sign language. Connecting with the Deaf community over there could aid and make your learning a lot easier.
Great that you want to learn the Sign language , gradually we can create a better inclusive world. Thank you and have a great week

Nini Mappo
Aug 24, 2020
Aug 24, 2020

Hi Rebecca,
I learnt so much about life with hearing loss reading your story. It i is lovely that growing up in the midst of a disability has empowered you to be innovative in meeting the needs of those living with it.

We need so much disability literacy in Africa, and I am proud to see you here bridging that literacy gap in your country. Well done, and welcome to World Pulse!

Rebeca
Aug 24, 2020
Aug 24, 2020

Thanks a lot Nini.
Hopefully we will have more disability advocates and achieve a more inclusive society together.
Thank you for having me

Shirin Dalaki
Aug 24, 2020
Aug 24, 2020

Dear Rebecca,
Welcome to WP. I am so proud of you and what you do is so valuable. I loved what you shared with us especially this part, "and from that day I made up my mind to do better and change the “Why”.
Thank You,

Shirin

Rebeca
Aug 28, 2020
Aug 28, 2020

Thank you Shirin for having a read.
It's so great to be here #smiles

SUZAN
Aug 24, 2020
Aug 24, 2020

Hi Rebecca, first of all let me welcome you to the World Pulse community of warm and loving people, you are in right place.
Secondly, I must commend you for taking up an amazing advocacy initiative. In my university days, I remember a mate of mind who did sign language at church. All the deaf community people would gather around her like their mother hen and she was so skillful at it. I didn't just admire her, I felt like she was an exceptional being to have the ability to translate all those statements. I appreciated her and she would do it for over 4 hours every Sunday!
Honestly Rebecca, being deaf is not a disability but a chance to explore a whole different world. Yes, sound is beautiful but sometimes silence teaches you things that this noisy world won't give you a chance to grasp. You are special and your family is unique. Use your ability to give hope to the not so able. All the best in your mission.

Rebeca
Aug 28, 2020
Aug 28, 2020

Awwnnnnn! Thank you so much Suzan. I am glad you share the same view and I hope you will learn the Sign language too so that many more people will start to share this view and we can gradually promote an inclusive society. Thanks for the words of encouragement sis, I feel so welcome already

Regina Afanwi Young
Aug 25, 2020
Aug 25, 2020

Hello Rebecca, how are you my dear? What a great write up my sister.Really excited to connect with you. Thanks Jill for sharing the link with me. Am Regina, an advocate for the deaf in Cameroon. My junior sister was deaf also and so we share the same passion. Am so proud of you to have learnt the sign language for the seek ofyour parents , your sister and the entire community. God will bless you for such selflessness. Am even more excited because I know we will have a lot to share in view of having the same goal. Presently i have some ongoing initiatives i have posted on my imoact dashboard fir deaf and Vunerable persons in my community. Pkease will love you to have a look. You might as well have ideas to propose so my objectives will be better met as am always open to learning dear. Please let's keep in touch. Will love to read more from you. Keep safe
Hugs

Rebeca
Aug 28, 2020
Aug 28, 2020

Wow! Nice to meet you Regina
You are doing amazingly great and I am sure there is a lot to learn and do together. Already followed you and was looking out to connecting with you but thank you for reaching out, I am humbled. Yes of course, on it
I am excited about this network already, thank you.

ARREY- ECHI
Aug 29, 2020
Aug 29, 2020

Dear Rebecca,
Welcome to the Pulse.
I am glad to meet you here. Sign language is an adventure and culture on it's own and you being a native signer, has a lot of advantages. I am glad your younger sister had to help you reconsider your why. I understand the stigma and stares because our societies, generally look down on anyone different.

I sign too. Being hearing impaired, I learnt the language and I love it. Keep signing and advocating for the deaf. The future is indeed inclusive. Looking forward to read more of you here.
Love from Cameroon

Rebeca
Aug 28, 2020
Aug 28, 2020

Awwnnnnn! Thank you Arrey. I am glad that you are here too and this just further shows that that being Deaf or hearing impaired is not a limitation. Thank you for having a read and I will definitely love to connect with you.

Chidimma
Aug 27, 2020
Aug 27, 2020

Hello Dear Rebecca,
A big welcome to world pulse. Honestly l admire your courage and zeal to bridge the gap for the deaf especially your family. As an individual, l don't see being deaf as a challenge or limitations but rather just as you said as a different culture and life goal. i will like to know more about you NGO, where its located. Thanks for sharing about yourself and continue being an advocate for the deaf. kudos to you, more win and more grace.
love
chidimma.

Rebeca
Aug 28, 2020
Aug 28, 2020

Thank you Chidimma, nice to meet you and thank you for your kind words. I am happy you share the same view. The name of my NGO is CODAH Enterprise where I work to promote the linguistic Identity of the Deaf community and promote their Inclusion in the society, it is located in Lagos, Nigeria. I am connecting with you already, please feel free to ask me anymore questions. Thank you for having a read

maeann
Aug 28, 2020
Aug 28, 2020

Hi Rebeca Welcome to World Pulse. Your story is your power. It's good to hear from someone that I really like to connect with and to learn more that is close to my heart... I would love to learn from you more. Thank you for sharing. I am looking forward to hear more of your org and how you have been lifting up the Deaf Community.

Rebeca
Aug 28, 2020
Aug 28, 2020

Thank you Maeann, I am glad to be here and I am sure there is a lot to learn from one another as time goes on. Glad to connect with you and you will surely hear more from me

Tumanjong Miranda
Aug 28, 2020
Aug 28, 2020

Hi Rebecca,
Wow! You are so awesome. I can imagine how hard of was for you to grow up in such an environment. I am very proud of you and applaud you for the bold step you took to breach this gab between the deaf and others in society. Keep up with the great job!
Hope you are keeping safe!?
XOXO.

Rebeca
Aug 28, 2020
Aug 28, 2020

Awnnnnnnn! Thank you Tumanjong
Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. Yes I am keeping safe and I hope you are too?

Anne-Chantal
Aug 29, 2020
Aug 29, 2020

Great piece dear Rebecca.
I love your passion.
I had always wished to learn sign language.
You worked with VSO? Wao, nice.
You are doing an amazing job.

Rebeca
Sep 01, 2020
Sep 01, 2020

Thank you Anne. Yes I used to volunteer with VSO, I volunteered and became a Team leader on the International Citizen Service, I also led some teams here in Nigeria on the SDG's school project before I eventually started my own NGO. Please I will encourage you to go ahead and learn the Sign language from any local NGO or Deaf people around you. I would have loved to teach you but our Sign language differs in each country.

Anne-Chantal
Sep 15, 2020
Sep 15, 2020

oh really? learning that too. Well, it is in my to do list. So I would certainly learn in some day.
Lots of love and keep up with the great work you do. Its amazing!

Andrace
Aug 30, 2020
Aug 30, 2020

Wow, Rebecca! You look smashing. I love your photograph. I am happy that you have gotten your confidence back. Congratulations about your initiative. Thank you for the brilliant idea. CODAH Enterprise is it! Your sisters here support you, because "being deaf is no longer seen as a limitation." Your family is wonderfully and fearfully made. Let's celebrate our uniqueness!

Hugs and love,
E.J.

Rebeca
Sep 01, 2020
Sep 01, 2020

Awwwnnnn! Thanks Andrace
I appreciate your kind and encouraging words.
Love from Nigeria

lemonadelemon
Aug 30, 2020
Aug 30, 2020

Thank you for sharing. Love your passion and afford

Rebeca
Sep 01, 2020
Sep 01, 2020

Thank you for having a read Lemonadelemon
#smiles

Millynairi
Sep 25, 2020
Sep 25, 2020

Dear Rebecca,
Welcome to World pulse! I am happy Vlad to hear what you are currently doing, " deaf advocate". Many times we pass through things that push us to our destiny. I am sure your parents are proud of you and I personally do appreciate the fact that you passed through a tough situation but purposed to be a change agent. I am proud of you dear. Thanks for sharing.