Any number of things can make me cry. I am not a hard nut to crack. I get full points for checking in at all the usual things that make most people cry, like funerals, joyful news about babies being born, and beautiful music.
But I also have my own particular portfolio of situations that can reduce me to tears that may leave most of you confused: the skollie patrolie at the primary school, for example, can leave me tjanking. I just find it so beautiful when the little pupils, all vulnerable and innocent in their 12 years, pit their flimsy weight against 3 ton vehicles, and wearing their bright neon vests, lower their thingy-ma-bobs with the stop sign on it, guaranteeing a safe passage across the road to the two most prized possessions in my world. It is Moses and the Red sea stuff!
Another of my weaknesses is the national anthem. Sung anywhere, anytime. Even before rugby matches. And Michael Vlismas’s article about the Two Oceans Marathon and our being bound together as a force for good as everyday South Africans, despite what the politicians do to drive us apart. Michael can make me cry. In fact, any incident where integration triumphs over segregation, and we find each other despite our differences, leads me to tears.
And voting. I don’t think I will ever not find it moving to vote in South Africa. We are so heavily invested in voting here. Historically, and currently. I have sobbed at the South African Embassy in London when we voted there when we lived in England. I have cried at the Klipdrif Kontantwinkel in the North West Province when we caste our vote from our farm amidst the boere, and three weeks ago when we went to register to vote again at the Primary school in Joburg, I found myself barely able to talk to the party man who was canvassing gently with words that drove my despair and my hope for a miracle in our country deeper into my heart. “I have also got two children, eight and eleven,” he said, looking at Pippa and Nicolaas. “I also lie awake at night worrying about their future.”
“No need to work on me, Mr party man! You have my vote!” I said internally, not managing to choke back my tears. I started miming to Herman, “I am going to be going off with this man for the next few months, to serve my country by building a strong opposition. Please feed the children while I am gone and make sure they do their homework!… I will return to you!”
Being moved to tears is in my genes. My father and my grandfather before me, were also not hard nuts to crack. And my mother has been known to have to leave the church when the singing gets too beautiful. Once, when all escape routes were barred, she had no choice but to slip quickly into the vestry to hide her tear stained face. Unfortunately the entire procession of priests, lay ministers, choir and church deacons were seconds away from ending their parade in her hiding place. Thinking fast through her tears, my mom just slipped into the vestment cupboard Narnia style and stayed tucked up amongst the coats while the priest ended his day’s duties with a closing prayer in the default world on the other side of the wardrobe. She could hear it through her tears in the snow amongst the pine trees!
So where is this blog going? I can hear you asking. Well. Nicolaas was given a fantastic opportunity through his school, to do a voice over for a Deaf TV programme. The programme is about a family who lives in Pretoria. Both the mother and the father are visually impaired – let’s call a spade a spade: they are blind. They cannot see. And wait for it, both the children, aged 8 and 9, are deaf. Yes. Tanya and Johan cannot see, and Corban and Samantha cannot hear.
I can go into the genetics of why and how this all happened if you want to inbox me. What I want to do here is answer the question I know you are all asking, “How do these parents communicate with their children, and how do their children communicate with them? Well you may wonder. Corban and Samantha use sign language, and Tanya and Johan FEEL what their children are saying. They communicate by placing their hands and fingers over their children’s hands and fingers.
It has been Tanya’s dream to get Cochlea implants for both her children. This will mean that they will be able to hear, and if it is not too late, possibly develop some capacity for speech. Tanya has been trying to make this dream happen for the past 9 years. She has tried to keep her dream a secret from her children, as she is terrified that she will not be able to raise the money she needs for the implants. But somehow, Corban, her bright little son, has worked out what her plans are. He signs to her with his fingers, while she listens back with her hands, “I am going to have an operation, and one day I am going to be able to speak to you.”
This is obviously what reduces me to tears. And I hope it is making you cry too. I am wondering at the synchronicity of the universe, that leads me, a professional fundraiser, to be the mother of the boy who does the voice over for the documentary about their family for television. I desperately want to help Tanya to raise the money she needs for her children to have Cochlea implants. (And just for the record, I am doing this one pro-bono).
So this is a SHAMELESS appeal letter, sent to all of you, the readers of my blog, who have supported and encouraged me for years. This is a SHAMELESS ask. Before your tears stop, please take a moment to convert them into a donation that will help Coban and Samantha to be able to hear their mother’s voice for the first time in their lives. We have to act quickly – we need the operation to be done before the end of the year if it is not going to be too late.
The good news is that Tanya has already raised R139, 000. She needs another R711, 000. Please click here to make your donation. And please use your cell number as a reference. I know that Tanya would want to be able to thank you in person, and I want to be able to keep you informed of our progress in raising this money, so that we can all celebrate with Corban and Sammy when they have their Cochlea implants, at the latest, before Christmas.
Every Rand we get in, will count. If you are overseas, we will obviously love you A LOT with our rotten exchange rate. So if you want to be part of something bigger than yourself, please donate and then send this on to your networks!
PS Remember to give your cell number as a reference to your donation so we can thank you and let you know when Corban and Sammy will hear their parents voices for the first time in their lives!