“I cannot imagine my little boy growing up in this gang-ridden community and not being able to run for cover when a gang shooting breaks out. He would still be standing in the midst of the gun shots and screams of terror, not being able to hear a thing,” says Ruqayah Peters, a 20-year-old mother from Lambert Place in Hanover Park.
The emotional newlywed has taken to social media in hope of finding help from locals to raise funds for a cochlear implant for her two-year-old. “When Uthmaan was born, he seemed like a normal little boy. As months went by, we noticed that he was not responding to any sounds. We would make loud noises and bang things behind him, with the hope of getting his attention, but he would never respond. This is when we realised that something was wrong.
“We took him to the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and they broke the news to us that our baby was deaf,” she says.
Peters says R200 000 is needed for a new cochlear implant. According to medical reports, the implant (an electronic medical device) replaces the function of the damaged inner ear and is known to be more powerful than an ordinary hearing aid.
“Doctors said he had profound hearing loss and by getting the implant he stood a chance of hearing us better for the very first time. The hearing implant he had before doesn’t help much and doctors suggested a cochlear implant,” she says. “Uthmaan suffers from ear infection all the time and it is becoming so painful for him. I am a young mother and I will do anything to see that my child is taken care of. My mother is the only one supporting us in the house as both my husband and I are unemployed. I am desperately looking for a job, but because I never finished school, it is hard to find employment.”
The boy currently attends a special development school in Maitland and travels a distance to get the required attention. “Fees are also a major challenge for us. We need to raise money every month to ensure R2000 is put aside to give him the services needed. It is very pricey to be able to have him in an environment where he can learn to adapt to things without hearing abilities,” explains Peters.
“It is quite tricky to communicate with him. Since he went to school he has started to make eye contact with me. At first it was hard because he would cry and I wouldn’t know what he wanted. It’s very challenging to teach him things. He plays with ordinary items like strings, and does not have the interest of other kids. He also never grew up with toys as I am not able to get him that due to financial difficulties.”
Like any other concerned mother, Peters urges community members to support her so that she can give her son the opportunity to hear her voice for the first time.
“We are hoping to get the necessary assistance to give Uthmaan a chance in life. Even if there is a job offering for me to work myself and pay for the implant, I would accept it.
“I want the best for my son.
“We just want a good environment for him and at the moment we can’t give it to him as both his parents are jobless,” says Peters.