Windhoek — The Namibian National Association of the Deaf (NNAD) will be hosting the first ever Miss Deaf pageant.
The pageant, to be held before the end of this year, will cater for deaf students who are willing to take part in the pageant. The initiative is a joint partnership between the NNAD and Be Inspired Magazine. "Our deaf people have been left behind and excluded from such events, and this is the platform on which they will be able to do the same as other people and inspire other young people. They have equal talent and its time that it is recognised by society," says Be Inspired Magazine's Ester Shikongo.
She adds that there is still a need for sponsorships as without sponsorship, hosting an event of this nature will not be possible "We should give every one a chance, I mean equal rights, we have Miss Namibia but then we see nothing for the deaf people and people with disabilities. We need to make them a part of society so that they don't feel left out," she says.
Shikongo adds that the contestants will be chosen from the three deaf institutions in the country, namely in Rundu, Ongwediva and Windhoek, where 15 young women will make the final cut. "For many years now we have never been included, that's why I feel this is very important, especially for me. We need sponsorship now to make this possible. Many things happen and we have challenges we can do what the hearing can yet we are always excluded," says participant, Sylvia Barthlomeus.
She says she this opportunity is a good platform for the deaf participants to show that they are capable of doing it, and partaking in events with the hearing. "We don't want to beg anybody here but as an individual you will feel good seeing that I have invested in individuals, even companies when they sponsor, it will be a good feeling to see these people go far in their lives from the little investment they would have made," says Shikongo.
She adds that this event could potentially inspire neighbouring countries to host such events and eventually have the like of Miss World for the deaf.
"This is very important and they must be given an opportunity, we disabled people are always looked at with pity and we don't want that. We want to prove that we are just normal being like them," says NNAD Chairperson, Paul Nanyeni. He adds that this will be a way of creating awareness within society, "and through this event the nation will wake up and see our potential."