'We don't have to live off Sassa grants' - Mr Deaf SA wants to inspire the hearing impaired

2018-11-01 16:02
Kurt Ryan Dirks. Photo. (Supplied)

Kurt Ryan Dirks. Photo. (Supplied)

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After being crowned Mr Deaf SA 2018 at the Miss, Mr & Mrs Deaf SA (MDSA) pageant on October 13, Kurt Ryan Dirks from Bellville, Cape Town, sees the title as his opportunity to raise awareness about what it means to be deaf and inspire others who are also hearing impaired.

Kurt is the youngest of three children and was born deaf because of a genetic defect that affected his sister, who was also born deaf, and his mom, who became deaf in her late twenties.

“Deaf people can lead normal, independent lives and not live off a Sassa grant fund. I want to uplift and inspire all other deaf people to believe in themselves and push beyond boundaries,” Kurt says.

He adds that he also wants to educate hearing people to be patient with the hearing impaired and not to treat them differently than they’d treat anyone else.

His wife, Wendy Contessa Dirks, a radiotherapist and freelance photographer, also entered the Mrs Deaf SA pageant and was named First Princess, so the couple has made history as the first couple to have both won titles in the same year.

Wendy – who was born deaf due to her mother developing meningitis while pregnant – said she entered because she was always interested in the competition.

“I took part because I’m always up for a challenge and wanting to help others,” she said.

Kurt regularly takes part in fundraisers and awareness campaigns and dreams of bridging the gap between hearing and non-hearing people.

“When I was selected a finalist for Mr Deaf SA I visited deaf schools I attended as a child, sharing my experiences with the pupils,” he said.

“It was just uplifting to see kids listening to me and asking lots of questions as they were genuinely interested about their futures. I picked up kids who said they were embarrassed to wear their hearing aids as other kids laughed at them for being different.”

Wendy Contessa Dirks

He wants to try to take away the stigma around being deaf and has also been chosen to be a judge for a deaf pageant taking place on 1 December.

The 33-year-old bank floor manager adds that he’s preparing to enter Mr Deaf World 2019.

He feels privileged that his parents instilled confidence in him from a young age and wants to give that to other non-hearing people.

“I played with lots of hearing kids and belonged to the Hazendal Soccer Club. I gave respect and received it in return, so I’ve always been outspoken and courageous.”


Driven by his passion for life, he entered Mr Deaf SA to be a part of a movement that tries to promote understanding between deaf and hearing people.

His final words of inspiration to other non-hearing people are, “Never be shy of who you are, have courage and always listen to understand and not to respond with haste and anger.”

Read more on:    cape town

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