Helen Keller once said that the Deaf-Blind are amongst the loneliest people in the world as they are isolated and misun- derstood by society. As someone living with these disabilities, I can say that this statement is true. Usher Syndrome is a genetic disorder causing hearing loss and also Retinitis Pigmentosa which results in a progressive loss of vision and eventual blindness. Mobility is restricted and in a social environment, verbal and visual communication is often difficult.
As a general rule, the attitudes of people within the social, business and church environment is often very negative towards those with Usher Syndrome simply because of lack of knowledge or ignorance. Changing attitudes is extremely difficult and unfortunately discrimination still exists in many areas, but with patience and understanding and a desire to adjust one’s thinking about how to relate to a doubly-disabled person, much can be done to alter preconceived ideas and give the deaf/ blind person opportunities which will enable them to become positive and productive members of society.
Searching for fulfilment
As a child I went to Mary Kihn School and Dominican Grimly School for the Deaf. I grew up in a home without any religious education and I considered myself to be agnostic. I had some sort of vague belief in God though I always felt that all religions were essentially the same.
As I neared completion of matric I started to feel that something was missing in my life. Coming from a broken home, multiple failures in school education, deafness/blindness, loneliness, depression, I decided to search for answers to try and escape the pain and find some way to give meaning to my life. At that time I did not know what I was looking for but Yahweh (God) led me to a wonderful Christian lady who introduced me to the Gospel.
Today, 24 years later, I am proud to be one of God’s children and part of His family. After school and following a few years in various fields of employment, I studied and obtained several degrees including Information Systems, Ancient Near Eastern Culture, Biblical Archaeology (UNISA) and Christian Theology (USA).
My passion for archaeology
By God’s grace I have had a full-time job in IT for the past five years. This has given me a salary to support myself but at the same time, I have had a great passion for archaeology, so I studied and participated in an archaeological expedition to Israel over the last few years. Although I felt extremely challenged at times because of the risk of falling and just not seeing as well as others, I managed to overcome these difficulties and have not had any major injuries mainly because I was very careful and the people on my team were extremely kind and helpful.
A lot of my interest has been focused on the Old Testament sites such as Hazor, Lachish, Megiddo, Jerusalem, Kiryat Qeiyafa and many other ancient sites that have been excavated over the past several decades.
Excavating at Hazor and Lachish has been an amazing experience since it was here that Joshua and the Israelites first entered the land of Canaan conquering these cities nearly 4,000 years ago. For Scripture says in Joshua 11:10 “At that time, Joshua turned back and captured Hazor and put its king to the sword.”
Following my passion
Over recent years archaeologists have discovered sensational finds in the ancient city of Hazor located in the northern part of Israel. Archaeological evidence has proved the Biblical account of Joshua’s conquest of Hazor around 1300 BCE when the city was destroyed by re when it was under Canaanite rule. This was demonstrated by thick ash, charred wood and jars of burnt wheat. Some of these amazing jars, carbon dated to the period of around 1300 BC, were 3,400 years’ old with burnt wheat seeds still intact, found in the Late Bronze Age palace building.
In June 2014, I realised a dream of mine to go as a volunteer on an archaeological excavation to Lachish. This was a highlight for me to be able to join with others from around the world in the most exciting archaeological adventure of my entire career. Volunteers all over the world ock to Israel during summer months (June-August) to participate in the archaeological “dig” at Tel Lachish which is one of the largest and most prominent mounds in southern Israel and is 40km away from Jerusalem.
Modern day Indiana Jones
Because of the extreme heat during summer in Israel, excavation begins at 4am. While most people are familiar with the Indiana Jones movies, the job of an archaeologist is not quite like Indy’s adventures, but you do get to wear khaki pants, Indy’s hat, get nice and dirty by shifting and digging hard clay out with handpicks, picks, brushes, sieves, buckets and at times flee from scorpions and other exciting aliens waiting to meet you as one uncovers relics of the past!
There’s something tremendously satisfying and exciting about watching the sun rise over this massive site that shines on the nearby orchards and one has the expectation of finding something major on the plastered oor that has been covered for centuries, like pieces of jewellery, exquisite pottery jars, ornaments, or written tablets knowing that someone held it before you did, several thousands of years ago. seeing the Bible come alive I was working with a team from the United States and Israel and we discovered a sensational piece of gold jewellery which was totally unexpected and exciting as it was possibly from a necklace belonging to an upper class Egyptian or Canaanite family dating to the Late Bronze Age. For me, as a double-disability person, I feel blessed and privileged to be involved in the exciting eld of archaeology and especially as a Christian as it certainly makes the Old Testament come alive!
For the past two years I have been conducting basic archaeological seminars on the latest excavations at Tel Hazor and Tel Lachish with various church groups.