‘In the jungle a lion must outrun a gazelle so as not to starve and the gazelle must out-sprint the lion if it is to survive,’ and so, when the sun is up, no matter what you are, you better be running. The same runs parallel for humans. Life becomes an endless struggle for survival. The obvious day-to-day challenges of care givers are to provide clothing, food, school uniforms, books and lunch money to children under their care while for the children, it is to do well at school and stay out of trouble.
Beneath the radar of poverty are other challenges that affect families personally. Those are the cases of a mentally or physically underdeveloped or disabled child. In a country where resources are meagerly limited, it is very easy for those with afflictions to be ‘left by the way side,’ devoid of proper rehabilitation or integrated training. Their potentials for the most remain untapped and so in life they grow with grave dependency.
Different does not necessarily mean deficient and so with love, devotion and persistence some children beat the odds, but doing so is not easy. Samaj Barrett is one such child. She attends the Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf in Kingston, Jamaica. Here is her story told in her very own words and in her very own unique way.
“My Biggest Challenge.”
By: Samaj Barrett.
My biggest challenge is my goal in life, who I want to be as an individual. It is hard for me to accomplish my goal in life, because of my disability. (My Deafness).
Being deaf is very challenging when I want to communicate with my family, who still has difficulty understanding me. I have to be constantly writing what I want to say and because the majority of them cannot read, they cannot respond to me and so it is very frustrating if not irritating.
Often times I try to use my voice to communicate with them but it hurts my throat to do so, furthermore the sound does not come out clearly thus causing the hearing to laugh at me.
It is very lonely not having anyone to talk to at home. When a family member uses the phone, I just sit and watch. I was so very happy to discover that there was a telephone for the Hearing Impaired, teletype writing. Robert H. Weitbrecht invented the T.T.Y. ninety years after Alexander Graham Bell invented telephone for the hearing.
At school, it is a challenge to get a good grade in English Language. There are no special learning materials for the teachers to use for the deaf children. There is no exemption at my school for learning. We are classified with the hearing, which I like. We are taught that we have the ability to succeed in CXC subjects as the hearing because we do not necessarily have to hear to learn. This might not be so for the hearing but the deaf cannot tell a word rhymes and it is difficult to understand phonics being deaf.
The Deaf has to work twice as hard to get where they want to be in life, to get what they need, to get support and equal rights and for the government to make provisions for them. Why?
The Deaf has done peaceful demonstration to get drivers license and equal pay for job done at professional level as the hearing. We are robbed, cheated, rejected, curse and abused because of our disability. We are seen by society as insensitive, stupid and has no set goals in life.
In the Deaf community, various challenges have been identified. We are determined to work very hard in school and in the community believing that we will make life easier for our next deaf generation. The next generation must have equal access to opportunities as the hearing.
Being born deaf is a challenge to parents and some may even seem to think it is a ‘curse’ to them. How can we change their perspective? We can by excelling in what we do in our career or academics. Challenges can be shattered and I intend to do so. I am determined to be a qualified and registered Cosmetologist (Hair Artist), working with movie stars and traveling to various countries in the world. I will employ a hearing staff to travel with me as by booking agent and interpreter. I will also have a deaf staff as my personal assistants in the industry.
His own friends and enemies challenged the Lord Jesus but finally in Gethsemane, with great determination, he overcomes them all and so shall I.