In Fiji, a 16-year-old girl living with disabilities beats the odds to achieve her dreams
By Krishneer Sen
Suva, Fiji, 17 July 2012 – Sixteen-year-old Vivienne Bale always dreamed of becoming a professional table tennis player.
Her dream became a reality when she was chosen to be a member of the Fiji Deaf Table Tennis Club. She recently won one gold and one silver medal in a competition organized by the Oceania Table-Tennis Federation in Fiji. She has competed against some of the best players from Fiji, Nauru and Vanuatu.
Vivienne comes from Kuku Village in Tailevu and attends the Hilton Special School. She has two sisters and two brothers. In her spare time, she loves playing volleyball, spending time with friends and relatives and doing household chores after school.
UNICEF reports on Vivienne Bale, a 16-year-old girl with a hearing disability in Fiji, who has beat the odds to achieve her dreams.
“I am so proud of her big achievement,” said Vivienne’s older sister, Ulamila Bale Daurewa. “She is deaf but [can] excel at anything and is a good sportswoman and role model for other young people with disabilities. “Please support children with disabilities, no matter what disabilities they have. Make them be good leaders of tomorrow.”
Vivienne has faced discrimination all her life. “Many people think I can’t do anything like studying at school and playing table-tennis,” she said.
“The discrimination I faced is fading away as I compete with many hearing people around Fiji and overseas,” she said. “Awareness about my special ability would be one way to stop the stigma for me.”
Asked what governments in the Pacific can do to promote inclusiveness and awareness of the needs of those with disabilities, Vivienne said, “Government [institutions] such as the Ministry of Sports should look at our ability and provide more opportunities to the children and youth with disabilities.”
She was eager to share these words of advice with other children living with disabilities: “Do what you want to achieve from your heart and don’t lose hope.”
Krishneer Sen is an intern at the UNICEF office in Suva, Fiji. He is currently a student at Gallaudet University, the only university in the world for the deaf and hard-of-hearing students.