Sixteen year old Vivienne Bale always dreamt 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 competed together with the Fiji table tennis players at the Oceania table-tennis Champion. Vivienne has won one gold and one silver medal from the competition that was organised by the Oceania table-tennis Federation in Fiji. She has also competed with some of the best players from Fiji, Nauru and Vanuatu.
Vivienne attends Hilton Special School and comes from Kuku Village in Tailevu.She has two sisters and two brothers. During her spare time, she loves playing volleyball, spending time with friends and relatives and doing some household chores after school.
Vivienne’s older sister, Ulamila Bale Daurewa says “I am so proud of her big achievement. 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,” says Daurewa.
I spoke with Vivienne on what she thinks about discrimination and how Governments in the Pacific can become more aware and more inclusive of those with disabilities.
Have you ever faced discrimination? If so, give me an example.
Yes for example, many people think I can’t do anything like studying at school and playing table-tennis.
How have you dealt with this?
The discrimination I faced is fading away as I compete with many hearing people around Fiji and overseas. Awareness about my special ability would be one way to stop the stigma for me.
What are some things you think Governments in the Pacific can do to help people understand (become more aware) and help those with disabilities?
Government such as the Ministry of Sports should look at our ability and provide more opportunities to the children and youth with disabilities to participate in these sports as we have the ability to do so.
In closing the interview, Vivienne wanted to share these words of advice:
“Do what you want to achieve from your heart and don’t lose hope.”
Vivienne in centre with the other deaf team players
This is written by Krishneer Sen, an intern at UNICEF Pacific office in Suva, Fiji. He comes from Sigatoka, Fiji and is currently studying Bachelor of Science in Information Technology at Gallaudet University, the only university in the world for the deaf and hard of hearing students.