Eliza is deaf. At the age of six she caught meningitis and the medicine that treated her meningitis also unfortunately caused her deafness. She attended a deaf school for several years and was one of the first seven deaf people that joined a local NGO called Neema Crafts to learn a craft. By having a job she created an independent life. In 2007 Eliza received a digital hearing aid from Neema Craft Centre.
Life in general for disabled women in Tanzania, is very hard. Both Eliza’s own father and the father of her son, refuse to give her any support. Eliza, as many other deaf women, suffers from a low self-esteem. Not knowing how to communicate well, ask for help or even scream, these women are very susceptible to rape and other abuses.
Elizas’ photos show her life as it is. Sometimes her life is “silent” and disabled; especially in public places where there is lots of noise or when she becomes tired Eliza is clearly surrounded by her own silence. On the other hand, she can be very communicative and is not afraid to use her voice. Her disability is then shown through other people, who react to her ‘extravert’ loud and different voice and body language.
Deafness is a disability that is not easy to see and therefore difficult to find funds for. Deafness has a great impact in low-income countries because of a lack of services, equipment, understanding and trained people. There is a huge stigma attached to having any form of disability in Tanzania, deafness included. It also often causes difficulties in obtaining, keeping and performing an occupation and it thus creates poverty and places an economic burden on the individuals. Eliza showed her life through my lens. Through these series I would like to draw attention to deaf people in Tanzania and other developing countries, their accomplishments and their issues.
The series of ‘Eliza’ have been published at the International museum of Women, 2011, in Global Medicine Magazine #13 November 2011, published in Dream Deaf World Sept 2011, awarded as Finalist Runners-up in the 7th Edition of the Julia Margaret cameron Award 2015, and will be exhibited at the Berlin Biennial Fine art and Documentary Photography 2016, and on global fund for women: http://imaginingequality.globalfundforwomen.org/content/silent-side-life