Deaf On A Mission: Making A Difference
Vending has become a major source of income for the majority of deaf people as they face much discrimination in all circles of life. Entering into the city centre at almost every corner you find someone selling something and the sight of prices being displayed on the vending stall will tell you a hard of hearing person is selling here. It is a way of communicating prices by a deaf person to avoid misunderstandings with customers.
By Tafadzwa Mwanengureni
However, for 26-year- old, former Miss Deaf 2017, Chiedza Farirai Hukuimwe vending is not into her despite the challenges she faces when interact with hearing people. Meeting her for the first time one cannot notice that she is deaf by the way she does her things. To her seeing non-verbal cues used by hearing people seems absurd as some signs mean vulgar according to the deaf culture. "Some of the signs that hearing people use are vulgar for example when warning a child to stop what he or she is doing"
"I always feel shy even with signs used in churches, they have a different meaning with that of my language", Chiedza said. Attended Emerald Hill School of Deaf, Chiedza got involved in different posts and positions including being a junior Member of Parliament representing the deaf in 2013-14. Academically, she has 7 'O' level passes except for English which she said it was not friendly to her since signed English is different from exact English. " All the subjects were not difficult except English which l didn't understand because our class was merged of hearing and deaf people"
When communicating with the deaf especially miming, they can easily lip-read English than any other language. Apart from, academic knowledge, she multi-skilled in hair plaiting, sewing, and interpreting sign language to other deaf as well as hearing people. "I once worked at Paramount Garment in Southerton, then l left due to harassment and poor remuneration after that l opened my saloon in Marondera", Chiedza explained.
The major challenge Chiedza faced is that most of the places she worked they was poor remuneration. " I won Miss Deaf Zimbabwe 2017 but here in Zimbabwe l was not rewarded, I proceeded to compete for Miss Deaf World where l took the third position and was rewarded R10 000", she added.
Recently Chiedza worked at Sunrise Sign Language Academy (SSLA) as a sign language teacher as well as a deaf interpreter. Her boss Mr Douglas Mapeta, the founder of SSLA complimented her performance. " She is different from other deaf people, she loves to learn unlike other deaf persons", said Mr Mapeta. This has given Chiedza confidence and the ability to excel.
In many societies, deaf people experience injustices due to communication breakdown with people in different trades. Some are unable to communicate with fellow peers because they do not know the appropriate sign language since they failed to go to school. This results in deaf people becoming very vulnerable, taken advantage of especially young women and girls.
Chiedza has given herself a life mission, "I want to teach deaf people who stay in rural areas on how to report cases like rape and abuse and where to get assistance when they encounter such cases, I also want to support other people with disabilities by providing food and other basic needs", Chiedza said. Chiedza's desire is to give hope to other deaf girls and women and let them know that there are a lot of opportunities and hope for them as she is a testimony of this.