July 8, 2011
Welcome to Coco’s South Africa Journal – covering everything during this three week wild adventure and quest for advocacy.!
Today is a rainy day in Burlington, Vermont as I type this first entry of an adventure I intend to document from beginning to the end.
I will be bringing you through the motions of a Deafblind female advocate/adventurer as I leave North America for Durban, South Africa next week for the WORLD FEDERATION OF THE DEAF CONGRESS. Exciting times ahead for me and for you, reading a novella of the events as they unfold.
How did I come to this moment in my life?
At the beginning of this year, I submitted two applications to be a Deafblind presenter for the Congress and it was in the hands of the Congress Committee when the deadline arrived. For months they did not respond back much to my dismay. I lost a big sponsor because I didn’t have a viable reason to go to the conference other than presenting. They weren’t going to pay for a ‘leisure’ trip. I was bummed but I had other things to focus on such as wrapping up the Nepal Deafblind Project Office and handing it over to my assistant Director before I returned to Canada for vacation.
Mid-June, I get an email from WFD Congress Committee saying that my application to present has been accepted.
I couldn’t close my mouth shut for a long while. This is fantastic, I got the opportunity I’ve been dreaming of for a long time. Then it dawned on me. There’d be only three weeks left. Where would I find the money to ‘live through’ the Congress week and fit in a few adventures while I was there? The devil who sat on my left shoulder, Hopeless was his name, and he told me that it was impossible. Possible if you have the will for it, said the angel named Hope on my right shoulder.
Knowing how optimistic and willful I am, I wanted to see if this crazy notion of fundraising on the internet and through word of mouth would bring me to my total at the end of 3 weeks.
I created a fundraising website on Indiegogo.com, posted statuses everyday on Facebook asking for donors, wrote emails to organizations asking for sponsorship, emailed friends and family for their contributions and was given a wonderful opportunity to tell my fundraising story to a hundred and fifty women at the Deaf Women United conference on July 2nd. They helped raise $600 (and counting) towards the goal and one big organization, to be announced later, sponsored my entire flight costs to Durban. ¾ of my goal has been met and it’s only been nearly 2 weeks since I started my campaign. Unbelievable. Miracles DO happen. Bless their souls.
I leave in a few days. I haven’t packed. I’m on the prowl for a new camera to make vlogs everyday. Increasing my insurance for overseas is a priority. In constant email ping-pong with my future roommates in Durban. Looking up websites for adventure tours – a true Kwa Zulu Natal Provincial Park safari and a swim in a cage with Great White Sharks swimming around.
I will be presenting “A Deafblind Woman’s Journey around the World with a Cane” is the looooong title but it will impact the Deaf audience and their thinking and views towards Deafblind people. A dabble of my own personal adventures, meeting Deafblind people of all ways of life, my views on the social, educational, governmental and medical systems in developed and developing countries, and finally, how the Deaf sphere can practice INCLUSION of Deafblind people in their social lives and the movement for justice within the United Nations Convention on the Rights for People with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
Til next time,