Living with a disability of bilateral profound deafness never stopped Dr Lutendo Rhinah Singo from achieving her dreams.
She is the epitome of resilience against all odds.
Born and bred in Mukumbani village outside Thohoyandou town, in Venda Limpopo, she’s a second born of six children. She was capped with a Doctoral Degree in Environmental Sciences ( Hydrological and Water Resources ) at the University of Venda.
Irrespective of the challeges I faced throughout my life, I refused to be disabled in my inner self as well as mentally because I wanted to live beyond my limitations and inspire others.
One of the challenges she faced was being looked down on, ignored and people’s attitudes towards her and misconceptions about her abilities as a person living with disability.Be inspired by her story as shares her life experiences, both past and present.
I beame deaf at the age of seven and have been dependent on hearing aids for a number of years as my deafness was severe. As I grew older my ears deteriorated and was then diagnosed with bilateral profound deafness; which made it difficult for me to use hearing aids. I depended on lip-reading as my
mode of communication.
Honestly speaking, my journey in life has not been easy as I struggled a
lot with the various challenges associated with my disability of profound deafness. Due to my parents’ vision and interest in the mainstream education, as well as my reading interests in books and novels and my passion in breaking barriers, it enabled me to overcome various challenges associated with my disability.
I stated primary school at Mukumbani Junior Primary where social workers
monitored me with the help of an Audiologist who came twice a week to my school, and proceeded to Prince Ramaremisa Primary School. An attempt was made on numerous occasions to integrate me to a special school that caters for people with disabilities, but due to the nature of my background as a sickly child, an Audiologist was arranged for me to give me speech and hearing therapy twice a week to teach me how to talk, listen, and how to focus as my speech was very poor.
- 1996 – Completed my matric at John Shavhani High School.
- 2001 – Got accepted at University of Venda to study Bachelor’s degree in Hydrology and Water Resources.
- I was still fresh from Capricorn College where I just finished an N6 diploma in Water Treament; hence I needed to further my studies in the same field at University as I was passionate about Environmental Sciences.I
- 2004 – i graduated and was awarded accolade for best graduate student in the Department of Hydrology and Water Resources,
- 2008 – Enrolled for a Masters degree in the same field which I graduated
- In May 2019, I was capped with a doctoral degree in Environmental Sciences (Hydrology and Water Resources) at the University of Venda.
When I look back at the struggles I endured while pursuing my education, I still cannot believe that I have accomplished such journey to reach this far. By profession, today I call myself a Hydrologist, Scientist, Researcher and an Author.
My life experiences, both past and present. Irrespective of the challenges I have faced throughout my life, I refused to be disabled in my inner self as well as mentally because I wanted to live beyond my limitations and inspire others. I saw that I have achieved and accomplished a lot in both my career and personal life and I am living proof that “Disability Doesn’t Mean Inability.” I was also influenced by people who instilled positive morals in me which helped me a lot in strengthening my overall career and personal development.
A Proud Product of Deaf Parents.
Journey towards the publication of the book
I started writing my book in 2017. My background and the challenges I faced while growing up and pursuing my studies encouraged me even more to inspire others and I developed passion to write books related to my life and experiences as a person living with a disability. Hence, my first book titled “Disability Doesn’t Mean Inability
was born. I kept writing the book from 2017 until 2018 and decided to publish it in 2019 to date. Due to the national lockdown caused by Coronavirus pandemic since 26 March 2020, I had to wait for my publishers to resume work in July 2020.
I am excited to inform you that the production and publication of my book is now complete and books are readily printed for people to place an order. I never saw myself as someone who will have a positive impact on people that I meet. Since my university years, I have had this passion of motivating people
personally about their different life challenges, because I wanted to help them change something about their personal circumstances as I struggled a lot with my upringing.
I also was not happy that there are certain people who look down on people with disabilities and take them for granted, therefore, I told myself to work hard on my studies in order to prove them wrong that having a disability doesn’t
mean any inability to reach certain goals. It was then that I enrolled for a PhD degree and saw people amazed wandering how I reached this far despite of the disability i have.
When I planted the idea of writing a book in my mind, I thought it will be a very
difficult journey that will impact negatively on my life. I had to decide on a book title first, which was a bit difficult. I thought that every title I created will be seen as too personal and I was afraid that no one will like my book or it will upset people. I was also afraid that the book will make me look stupid. I spent sleepless nights deciding
on how to construct my book and formulate chapters.I consoled myself by agreeing that the people who are going to read my book may not have knowledge that I have, and that they may be desperate for it. I then started writing chapter by chapter everyday and listened to advices from others. My hobby of reading also equipped me for the better as I was able to glean a lot of information.
As I have conducted three research project in the form of dissertation and thesis for my Honours, Masters and Phd Degrees at the University, i discovered that I have excellent writing skills that can transform my experiences and inspirations into a book.
The motive behind the book
Currently, “Disability Doesn’t Mean Inability” is the only book I have published so far. The book however, was brought about by personal circumstances which I have enountered in my life as I grew up with a severe profound hearing impairment disability, which has not been an easy journey for me.
The book encourages people with disabilities :
- To love and accept themselves irrespective of their disabilities.
- It encourages them to live, think, act, and plan beyond their disabilities irrespective of the everyday’s challenges their disabilities maybring.
- It also seeks to educate people to embrace those living with disabilities of various kinds and acknowledge that a disability is not a disease and cannot therefore be used as an excuse which hinders anyone from achieving their goals.
In general, this book tried to show that we cannot be defined according to our disabilities; rather, it encourages us women to be what we want to be as long as our disabilities can enable us to realize our full potential.
A piece of advice to upcoming authors.
As I excitedly promote and market my book, I am confident that a new book title may be coming out soon. I would like to be a well renowned author, who writes books that motivate and uplift others. My advice to those who want to be authors is that: avoid the “I can’t do it” attitude and believe in yourself that you can make it happen. As my book is both educational and inspirational, it can be read by everyone, young and
Challenges experienced and how i overcame
In my personal experience, I have encountered a lot of difficulties which were psychological and emotional, as a person living with a disabili ty of profound
deafness. Although my current personal life and education background seems like I had it easy, I could not have bounced back and reached this far without seeking help, counselling and advices from various persons. Through their advices and constructive criticisms to build me both academically and intellectually, I managed to break the barriers assciated with my disability and overcame many challenges
associated with it.
My life was never easy while growing because of the stigma and discrimination I have faced over the years. In black communities, most people associate
a disability with an illness or a disease, as well as a curse. Therefore the affected
person is looked down on or prevented from participating in social activities such as education, or certain other careers and extramural activities.
I hated every minute of my schooling days because some people used to laugh at me because they would speak to me and I would fail to respond as I couldn’t hear them. Some went as far as labelling me antisocial. I was fluent in lip reading and would feel sad to read people’s lips talking and laughing about me as if I was not there. This made me feel unwelcome and unwanted. It was also disheartening to see that some people did not believe that I am capable of achieving something tangible in life. They forgot that I was still growing up and destined for greatness.
Women, especially those living with disabilities tend to face challenges of not being taken seriously as they are always judged according to their abilities to what they can or cannot do. As a woman living with a deafness disability, I was judged
according to my skills and knowledge as people thought that I am a lost cause who cannot do or complete a PhD.
I told myself to work hard on my studies in order to prove them wrong and show them that having a disability does not mean my inability to succeed in life. Today, I hold a PhD degree which those who did not believe in me struggled to reach such level and they still ask how I did it.
I learned over the years to ignore every negative criticism thrown towards me and mastered the courage to overlook the discrimination I endured. I would take such criticisms home and evaluate them because I wanted to use them for my own advantage. Although some of the criticisms I experienced helped me by learning from them, there were those criticisms which were derogatory
and demeaning. In my experience, I have found that disabled people still face discrimination on a daily basis.
I have seen that people with disabilities live their lives fighting every obstacle you
can think of, whether it is love, peace, acceptance or stability, and yet they seem happy at all times. I have learned that in order to move forward and make an easy way out of my situation, I must focus on working hard to break these barriers. Greatness awaits for everyone else, disabled or not.
Dr Singo can be contacted via whatsapp ( 083 7566 529 ) and Facebook messenger ( Singo Rhinah Tshivhase) for arrangements on getting the book.
Dr Singo is indeed an epitome of resilience against all odds.
Lets support her journey and purchase her book and be inspired.
From my heart to yours