Overcoming your fear

Ema Morovia with daughter Elena during the Gospel School for the Deaf’s market day at Harland Hostel in Suva last week. Picture: RAMA

LEARNING that your child won’t ever get to enjoy the gift of sound and music is not a disclosure easy to accept.

But that was exactly the kind of revelation and ensuing ordeal that Ema Marovia went through seven years ago.

With barely a smattering of knowledge about deafness, coupled with her own resentment, she felt utterly distressed.

“It was a hurtful and fearful experience, something that no parent should ever go through,” Ema said during the Gospel School for the Deaf’s (GSD) Market Day held last Saturday at the Harland Hostel, on Dhanji St, Samabula.

“After Elena was three months old, I noticed that she didn’t respond to sound. That’s when I began to suspect something was wrong.”

After a few medical examinations, Elena was confirmed deaf. Diagnosis showed her cochlea was damaged.

The cochlea is a fluid-filled organ that translates sound into nerve impulses before it is sent to the brain.

Each person has one cochlea in each ear.

“Because her cochlea was damaged, Elena couldn’t hear and because she couldn’t hear, she couldn’t talk. By her fourth birthday, she still had not uttered a word. You can imagine how worried I was.”

So to ensure the young Elena received specialised assistance and education, Ema and her family left Rakiraki for Suva. She was later enrolled at GSD.

“At first I couldn’t accept that she was deaf. I saw the frustration and the struggles she faced when attempting to communicate. While other children played and had fun, she seemed lonely on the sideline. That hurt me badly,” Ema reminisced.

“The management and staff of GSD have been so helpful and without their specialised assistance over the years, many deaf children like Elena would never get the opportunity to have an education and a normal life.”

Ema has been through many challenges but through it all, she has learned to be strong. One of her biggest concerns is discrimination.

“I want to emphasise that we need to start changing the way we view people who are living with this disability. They have and deserve a place in society and we must understand and respect them.

“If you are a parent or relative of a deaf child, you need to be supportive, just like the way my husband and family have supported Elena. You ought to be aware and stay informed about deaf culture, deaf needs, and where to get assistance. Also you need to demand and fight for inclusivity and equality.”

Ema remains optimistic about the future and hopes after graduating from GSD, Elena will grow up to become a productive and useful citizen. “Journeying through life with a deaf child is a not an effortless passage.

“There are challenges to meet and battles overcome. The good news is these are learning and rewarding experiences, and there is help out there. “As a community of people we need to stand together and support the deaf among us,” Ema said.

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