“I heard sounds for the first time at the age of 17. It was a life-changing experience to be fully introduced to the world of sounds.”
So said Gardens resident, Marisa Smit, who has been selected as a Miss Deaf SA 2019 finalist.
Ms Smit was born with a hearing loss of more than 140 decibels and was diagnosed as deaf at the age of 14 months. At this tender age, she said she wore hearing aids but they could only amplify vowels and not consonants, particularly the high-frequency consonants s,t,* and f.
“I cried when I heard my own voice for the first time. The clock’s tick-tock, waves on the beach, the wind in my hair, a crackling fire, to the little birds singing in the tree in front of my house. Everything has a voice! What a wonderful world. I invested all my pocket money to hear new sounds,” she said.
The big day was June 9 2005 – three weeks after having a cochlear implant at Tygerberg Hospital.
This has resulted in her starting her own campaign called “Catch Sounds”. The campaign aims to raise funds to provide batteries for hearing aid and cochlea implants for every deaf child in need in South Africa.
“There are rechargeable batteries available at R4 000 and portable, disposable batteries at R60 for one package with a life of about five days. Every child deserves to hear
and without batteries, aids and implants, they cannot catch sounds,” she said.
She said she entered Miss Deaf SA once again this year because she aims to make a difference in people’s lives. “This is my true passion in life, to inspire, give hope and serve the community,” she said.
Ms Smit said she believes she has what it takes to win the title.
“To be crowned Miss Deaf SA, one must be confident, she must have a passion for the community not only for the deaf community, also for the whole country. She must have a fire in her heart and light that fire to the world,” she said.
Ms Smit is currently working on her first children’s book. She said teachers at deaf schools have told her that it is impossible to teach pupils without hearing devices.
“I want to be an example to deaf teens, and show them that it is okay to wear something behind your ears. The person I am developed from my understanding of the world around me with the help of my aids and implants,” she said.
You can follow Ms Smit’s journey on her Facebook page: Marisa Smit-Miss Deaf South Africa Finalist 2019 and vote for her to win the Public Choice Awards by SMSing “MDS 04” to 47439. The SMSes are charged at R3 an SMS.