Urban Sky Trust

Fanie Lends a Hand

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Fanie Lends a Hand to Deaf Girl

National cricket hero Fanie de Villiers has come to the support of a Port Elizabeth family to raise awareness – and funds – for a little girl with a severe hearing impairment who is in need of cochlear implants.

De Villiers said he would assist Kurt and Leizel Bruinders of Walmer with their fundraising campaign in order to send their daughter Niamh, 4, to undergo cochlear surgery.

Niamh’s parents said they were thrilled to receive De Villiers’s assistance as they knew he would help them and Niamh to lead a normal life.

“We know this will help us reach our destination faster. Everyone knows Fanie. He will bring much-needed awareness to this campaign,” Liezel said.

She said Niamh was born with cytomegalovirus, which affected her hearing. Although Niamh wears hearing aids, Liezel said, she still only has partial hearing.

“This has also led to a language delay and of course you cannot learn to read and speak if you cannot hear, so it has had a range of impacts in her life.”

She said they had contacted De Villiers through Round Table, of which her husband Kurt is a member.

“He was willing to help us because some years ago his daughter had the same operation. We need to raise about R250000 for each implant so we plan to start with just the one ear, but we know it will go a long way to helping Niamh to hear.”

De Villiers has been raising funds for the deaf for the last 14 years, having become involved because of his daughter and his brother.

He cycled 2600km from Cape Town to Pretoria and raised R800000. He sat on the floodlights at a cricket Test match to generate pledges, raising R189000. He has also formed his own charity, Hear, to raise funds for cochlear implants and to help the deaf.

De Villiers said: “This is all about raising awareness. I know about it because my daughter was deaf and needed this operation. I also grew up with a deaf brother who needed this operation, but he could not get it because he was too old.”

He said children needed to receive cochlear implants before the age of seven or else it was too late. Niamh’s time was running out, which was why he was so determined to help. “Credit must also go to Round Table, who will be helping us make this a reality.”

De Villiers said hearing was not a privilege, but a right. Every child deserved to be able to hear. “In other countries this operation is covered by medical aid but not in South Africa.”

De Villiers said his daughter, Suné, had received cochlear implants when she was four years old, 14 years ago.

“She is now headgirl at her school and is a South African under-19 netball player, so it just proves that after this operation one can lead a normal life.”