Finalist gives back after her own struggle

2012-07-11 00:00

KASHVEERA Chanderjith, South Africa’s first deaf chartered accountant, is one of the Shoprite Checkers Women of the Year finalists.

Durban-born Chanderjith was nominated by a young woman who she inspired after delivering a speech. Chanderjith has been speaking in public since she was eight even though doctors were certain that she would never be able to speak or even grasp language.

“It is a challenge in itself to learn to speak when you have no knowledge of how a word even sounds,” she said.

The 25-year-old cannot emphasise enough the role her parents have played in her success.

“I have my parents to credit for the enormous strength and fortitude that I possess, because it was through them that I have managed to sustain through many battles, many hardships and still triumph,” she said.

It was her parents who taught her the “Aural-Oral method of communication”, which involves learning to talk and communicate by lipreading, talking and comprehending facial expressions.

Chanderjith noted that in an attempt to learn to speak she lost out on her childhood.

“It was hard in the beginning to accept that I am different,” she said.

She also faced mockery and discrimination, but still wanted to see the good in everyone and transformed the pain she felt into her strength.

“There was this constant human rights battle … My struggle for inclusiveness is far from over; overcoming barriers was part of the journey.”

Coming from a middle-class home, Chanderjith realised the importance of community service at a young age. She has been involved in numerous projects in Durban, particularly ones focused on education.

“I come from a family of educators and I understand the paramount importance and benefit of sound education.

“My learning was a bit of a challenge, but I always rose up to it by working twice as hard,” Chanderjith said of her education.

The hard work paid off because Chanderjith became UKZN’s first deaf graduate in 2007 and now works for Anglo American.

“I know I am different by design, but that hasn’t stopped me from walking a path that is different and setting the bar so that others can rise up and aspire for their dreams too.”

Chanderjith, who is nominated in the Young Movers category, would like to see herself in a position that influences change in the future.

“This award would be a tribute to the selfless nature of the hundreds of people that I have worked among,” Chanderjith said.

The winnings would go to starting a centre for HIV/Aids, woman abuse and substance abuse in a community centre that she previously helped to establish.

“Above all, the greatest winning I could ever ask for, is the promulgation of deaf awareness to the broader society and this is spread through my life, my profession and through my community work,” she said.

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