The Foundation for Children with Hearing Loss in Southern Africa held its inaugural golf day in Pretoria. Hosted by the organisation’s patron, radio presenter and singer, Martin Bester, the golfers raised R133 000 for three girls who urgently need cochlear implants.
The golf day that took place at the Silver Lakes Golf Club, and was attended by a host of celebrities including Bok Van Blerk, Dewald Wasserfall, Ampie, Ricus Nel, Danny Smoke and Jo Black. Corporate organisations came out in numbers to support the event that culminated in a prize giving dinner, presented by actor and comedian, Hannes Brummer, with a live performance by Martin Bester. Guests pledged support for the organisation. Sponsors and supporting corporates included Investec, Ford, Franschhoek Country House and Villas, iSmart SA, The Fairway Hotel, Belle Vie, Colban Golf Park, Canon, Sean Botha’s Golf Academy, Bidford Food Solutions, Snapp Architects, VDT Attorneys, Adventures with Elephants, Clarity Group, Copperleaf, The Golf Hub, Glenwood Chicken Deli, Oranje Print and Packaging, Uvex, Robert Busdiens, Caterlynx, Severus Smit, and Willie Du Plessis.
“We are thrilled with the results of the golf day. Thanks to the kind hearted people that supported this event, we are now able to sponsor cochlear implants for two beautiful young girls that are in desperate need,” says Erika Basson, the manager at The Foundation for Children with Hearing Loss. “We will now continue to actively raise funds for the third little girl that is R68 000 short for her cochlear implant. All support for her would be welcome.”The Foundation for Children with Hearing Loss has announced that its second golf day will take place on Thursday, 1 June 2017 at Silver Lakes.
“For the very first time my children will be able to hear my voice, and they will be the ears and eyes of our family.”
These were the heartfelt words of the elated blind mother of two deaf children who had a cochlear implant operation at the Zuid Afrikaans Hospital. Parents Johan and Tania Venter both have a 5% vision and are essentially blind. Their children, Corban, 10, and his 8-year-old sister Samantha were born deaf.
“I can’t wait for them to call me mom,” said a tearful Tania, who suffered from progressive disease retinitis pigmentosa, which left her blind. Family members communicate by touch alone; the children cannot hear their parents speak and the parents cannot see their children’s signs.
But all that is about to change. The siblings were admitted to hospital at 6am and were long ready to undergo what the mother described as a “life-changing operation”. The combined six-hour long operation left both parents unsettled. Samantha went to into theatre at 7.30am, and her brother followed at 11am “My mind was pacing and contradicting itself. On one hand, I had hoped it would run smoothly, but the longer the operation dragged on, fear and doubt crept in.
“I started thinking of the worst,” said Johan. When the Pretoria News arrived at the paediatric ward after the operation, the siblings had bandages wrapped around their heads and were having a dessert. Visibly jolly, they interacted with their parents and other visitors.
“I’ve always prayed for this miracle to happen and today I can ‘see’ it,” said Tania. Despite her limited ability to see, was ecstatic. But the road to leading to the operation has not been easy, and they have tried to raise funds for the implants for many years. They eventually joined the Foundation for Children with Hearing Loss in Southern Africa, which works hand in hand with the Pretoria Ear Institute where the cochlear implant efforts were conducted. A fund-raising campaign was established to raise over R800 000. By the end of 2014, their mother and the Foundation for Children with Hearing Loss had raised R136 000, leaving a shortfall of R668 000. The Nellie Atkinson Trust, managed by NedGroup Trust, stepped in with the outstanding money.
Its spokesperson, Lorenzo Davids, said the delay of having the cochlear implants would have been detrimental to their chances of getting a proper education, and of becoming independent and employable adults. The part of the brain which manages hearing would have become permanently damaged, and future surgery would be of no use. The Venters said that although they were a unique family with disabilities, they tried by all means to lead a normal life. “It is amazing,” said stepfather Johan.
Their biological father, who is sighted, left the family when they were both very young. Their mother recently married Johan, who is also blind. Johan said they had developed ways and means to carry out conversation.
The children know to knock and bang on doors and walls to attract their parents’ attention; they help their parents in doing daily chores around the house. But he explained that when they are in public places like a mall or a park, they could not call or see them, and this made ensuring their safety difficult. They had to rely on external help. “Because they know we cannot see, they explain colours to us and give descriptions of pictures, events and clothing,” said Tania. They also helped their mother to pair her shoes and held her hand to allow her to feel the texture of clothes. The children loved looking at pictures, which they described to their parents, and, like all girls her age, Samantha loved to take selfies on her cellphone.
Corben and Samantha attend school at the Transoranje School for the Deaf just across the road from their home in Pretoria West. Their mother is a teacher at Prinshoff School for the Visually Impaired, while Johan works at the Tshwane University of Technology. The siblings will be able to take their bandages off by Thursday, and after a month their devices will be switched on at Eduplex school.
Erika Basson, from the Foundation For Children with Hearing Loss, said the children would require intense rehabilitation and programming as they acquired skills and developed language. “They will have to familiarise themselves with all the different sounds, which at first is a daunting task but will eventually be fulfilling,” she said.
07 March 2017 – IOL News, Sakhile Ndlazi
DTV – The Venter Family Follow Up
Our passion for giving the gift of hearing will continue in 2018!
We will continue our work by creating awareness, gaining support and developing new partnerships in 2018.
The Foundation for Children with Hearing Loss envisions a world where everyone has the opportunity to enjoy life with sound, and we look forward to continuously share inspirational stories of life-changing hearing miracles.
May we walk the journey again with you in 2018, because YOU make it possible!
Cobus was born with severe hearing loss and depended on hearing aids all his life. He is now 25 years old and his hearing deteriorated to the extent that cochlear implants were the only solution.
In January 2016 Cobus received Phonak Advanced Bionics cochlear implants in both ears. The Cochlear implants were successfully switched on in February 2016. There is an adjustment period after the switch-on to recognise and become comfortable with sounds again.
Cobus showed phenomenal progress – he could already hear speech after only 4 months!
Cobus is working as a computer technician and communicates with clients on a daily basis. The Phonak Advanced Bionics implants will therefore open many doors in his work environment and he can now look forward to a wonderful future where his speech and hearing abilities will improve!
Enjoy the hearing journey Cobus!
Because Hendrico did not benefit enough from his hearing aids, and suffered a speech and language developmental delay, it was considered that a cochlear implant will be his only hope. Hendrico received his first cochlear implant on 31 September 2014 after being approved a successful candidate. The implant procedure was very successful and the device was switched-on on the 2nd of October 2014. His reaction to sound was very good and he was able to condition to speech bursts. He also underwent ongoing speech therapy in his hometown, as he particularly struggled with auditory processing skills.
Although he was doing very well with his first implant, a second implant would help Hendrico develop to his full potential by hearing binaurally. A second implant would provide significant benefits, namely – assisting him in developing processing abilities, improving his localization of sound, providing better hearing in noisy environments (classroom), improving his acquisition of language and improving focused listening for academic achievement. He was approved a successful candidate for his second implant and received the procedure on 11 September one year later. Hendrico is doing magnificently well and he responds wonderful to sound.