Pageant seeks to empower SA's deaf community

The organiser of the Miss, Mr & Mrs Deaf South Africa pageant said the competition aimed to empower the deaf community and to build a bridge between the deaf and hearing people.

Ms Deaf South Africa Megan Holmes, Mr Deaf South Africa Darren Archer and Miss Deaf South Africa Chanika Viljoen. Picture: facebook.com/mdsapageant/

JOHANNESBURG - Founded in 1995, this year's Miss, Mr & Mrs Deaf South Africa (MDSA) competition crowned this year's winners earlier in September.

MDSA CEO, Janice Jonker, told Eyewitness News that the pageant sought to improve the self-esteem and confidence of deaf people in South Africa.

"Miss, Mr & Mrs Deaf South Africa NPC aims to achieve to reach out to as many deaf people in South Africa as possible to enter the competition as we believe that we will be able to improve their self-esteem, self-confidence and would like to guide them on using their entrepreneurial skills by raising funds for MDSA."

The pageant's vision is to see the country’s deaf society develop through the medium of the beauty and entertainment industry, enhancing self-discipline, confidence, freedom of culture and presenting opportunities in order to empower people through competition.

"In that way, when the competition is over, they can use their skills to make a living for themselves and improve their work ethics. We want to empower the deaf community and to build a bridge between the deaf and hearing people."

Chanika Viljoen was named Miss Deaf South Africa, Darren Archer took the title of Mr Deaf South Africa and Megan Holmes was crowned Ms Deaf South Africa on 11 September.

The competition was founded in 1995 by Lodewyk Gous, who is deaf. He had a passion for Miss South Africa and he wanted deaf women to have an equivalent competition.

Jonker said they would like to see Miss, Mr & Mrs Deaf South Africa get the same recognition as the other big pageants, more media coverage and be celebrated by South Africans.

She added that since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, communication for the deaf community had been a challenge as masks hindered their ability to read lips. Jonker asked that people not roll their eyes or walk away when asked to stand back a little and lower their masks during a conversation with a deaf person.

The winners of Miss, Mr & Mrs Deaf South Africa will go on to represent South Africa at the Miss & Mister Deaf World pageant in 2022 while raising funds for the iSchool Africa charity.

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